Aboard the papal plane, Pope Francis issued one of his more muscular decrees: It's okay to use force against the radical Sunni group ISIL.
Pope vs Caliphate— Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) August 18, 2014
The reason he gave, according to the Associated Press, was to protect religious minorities in Iraq. One vital caveat, the international community (and specifically not just one country) has to agree:
Francis also said he and his advisers are considering whether he might go to northern Iraq to show solidarity with persecuted Christians, but are holding off on a decision for now.
As it's been reported, religious minorities have been displaced, persecuted, and beheaded in recent months as ISIL forces have swept across northern Iraq. As we noted earlier, the so-called Islamic State forces have finally met some potent resistance, losing control of the strategic Mosul Dam after Kurdish and Iraqi forces (backed by U.S. airstrikes) took it back on Monday.
People were of different minds about the idea that the pontiff came out in favor of force:
The Pope wants to use force to save Iraqis' lives, provided they fall into the correct demographic subgroup. http://t.co/9axMKPfszI— DavidKenner (@DavidKenner) August 18, 2014
Pope Francis may not be interested in war, but realizes war is interested in Christians https://t.co/Dg30W9U8fJ— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) August 18, 2014
Over at Vox, Max Fisher gave this historical lesson about the precedent of popes calling for war :
During the Middle Ages, between 1096 and 1272 AD, popes also endorsed the use of Western military action to destroy Middle Eastern caliphates. Those were known as the crusades; there were nine, which means that this would be number 10. The historical record suggests, though, that prior crusades were usually not endorsed from the comfort of jet-propelled airplanes, nor were they announced via Twitter.