Vatican responds to rumors of the Pope being an ISIS target

The Vatican is speaking against the claim that Pope Francis is a target of the Islamic State.

In an article published Monday, an Italy newspaper reported that the pope is a target of ISIS. The paper stated the pope is “in the crosshairs of ISIS” and that the group plans to “raise the level of confrontation” by attacking Italy and other parts of Europe. The Vatican has dismissed the report.

“There is nothing serious to this,” spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi told the Catholic News Agency. “There is no particular concern in the Vatican. This news has no foundation.”

Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is behind the offense to overtake large regions of Iraq and Syria in an effort to establish its own Islamic State, issued a threat against Rome earlier this summer.

“Rush O Muslims to your state. It is your state. Syria is not for Syrians and Iraq is not for Iraqis. The land is for the Muslims, all Muslims,” he said in an audio recording posted online. “This is my advice to you. If you hold to it you will conquer Rome and own the world, if Allah wills.”

While he has not endorsed American airstrikes against the group since overtaking Mosul in early summer, Pope Francis has said since then that ISIS must be stopped.

“I can only say this: It is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underline the verb: stop. I do not say bomb, make war, I say stop by some means,” he said during a recent press conference. “It is there that this should be discussed. Is there an unjust aggressor? It would seem there is. How do we stop him?”