Pope Francis has said it is not fair to label Islam as a “terrorist” religion.
During his return trip from a five-day pilgrimage in Poland onboard his private plane, reporters asked the pontiff why he never used the word Islam to describe terrorist violence.
It was the day after Isis extremists were said to have slit the throat of an elderly Roman Catholic priest in his Normandy church.
Pop Francis said: “It's not right to identify Islam with violence. It's not right and it's not true.
"I believe that in every religion there is always a little fundamentalist group.
"I don't like to talk of Islamic violence because every day, when I go through the [Italian] newspapers, I see violence, this man who kills his girlfriend, another who kills his mother-in-law.
"And these are baptized Catholics. If I speak of Islamic violence, then I have to speak of Catholic violence."
He said he spoke with imams who were “looking for peace”.
He condemned Isis, saying they presented themselves “with a violent identity card, but that’s not Islam”.
It came as Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop at a church in Krakow to pray to God to protect people from a “devastating wave” of terrorism in many parts of the world.
The murder of Jacques Hamel in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray was just one a wave of Isis inspired attacks in France and Germany in recent weeks.
On 15 July, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhel, ploughed a lorry into the Bastille Day crowds on the Nice seafront - killing 84 people and wounding hundreds more.
In Germany, a failed asylum seeker, Mohammed Daleel, blew himself outside a bar in the southern town of Ansbach after failing to get into a nearby music festival. Several people were wounded in the attack.
Additional reporting by AP
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