Already the bane of white supremacist groups for his relatively progressive views, Pope Francis’ latest plea for Catholics to help Syrian refugees entering Europe has apparently pushed things too far. A number of commenters on a white nationalist blog have openly called for the pontiff’s assassination.
You don’t have to investigate the Stormfront website very long before you realize it’s run by terrible people. Dedicated to spreading “white pride worldwide,” the forum prefers to think that “Every month is White history month.”
Aside from proving themselves alarmingly ignorant about race relations, the site’s users don’t appear very knowledgeable about science, either. Pope Francis’ recent push to highlight the realities of global warming outraged a large number of easily-angered skinheads.
But the pope’s latest appeal has outraged the site’s users even further.
“This mofo needs a third eye, right in the middle of where his two existing eyes are,” wrote one user, under the handle “Freedom Lover.”
That anger follows a Washington Post article that reported on Pope Francis’ urging of Catholics to take in Syrian refugees.
“Facing the tragedy of tens of thousands of refugees – fleeing death by war and famine, and journeying towards the hope of life – the Gospel calls, asking of us to be close to the smallest and forsaken. To give them a concrete hope,” the Pope said on Sunday.
This came as a direct response to a number of European leaders who have argued that an influx of Muslim refugees would damage Christian institutions.
“…Those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture,” Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last week, according to the Washington Post.
“We don’t have any mosques in Slovakia, so how can Muslims be integrated if they are not going to like it here?” Slovakia’s interior ministry spokesman, Ivan Netik, told the BBC last month.
But the Stormfront white supremacists have taken the debate far beyond civil discourse, claiming that Francis’ plea for kindness amounts to some kind of attack on white Protestants.
“White people need to be protected from the genocidal anti-white Pope and the genocidal anti-white religion he pushes,” wrote “Peace through Stormfront.”
On a separate white nationalist site known as Vanguard News Network, a user known as “John Adams” took it even further.
“The pope deserves to be executed for crimes against the White race,” he wrote.
As the pontiff approaches his trip to the United States later this month, can these online threats be dismissed as mere talk, or should they be taken as a legitimate concern? Either way, Francis’ security detail will likely remain vigilant.
But it’s worth noting that these white supremacist websites have a history with radical subscribers. Frazier Glenn Miller, who killed three at a Jewish community center in 2014, was a former member of the websites’ forums, as was Wade Michael Page, who shot six at a Sikh temple in 2012. Anders Behring Breivik, responsible for the worst mass shooting in Norwegian history, also frequented the sites.