A pro-ISIS group has promised to shed "Christmas blood" this season with the release of a new propaganda photo featuring a beheaded Pope Francis.
In the grotesque photograph, which can be viewed here at your own peril, the Roman Pontiff lay decapitated in an orange jumpsuit, the standard wardrobe of such victims, as a domineering ISIS militant stands above his corpse. A nearby caption reads "Jorge Mario Bergoglio" — Pope Francis's birth name.
Given the nature and use of the name "Bergoglio," the poster not only means to threaten the leader of Catholicism, but also to insult the very nature of his office. Catholic doctrine teaches that Christ instituted the papal office in Matthew 16:18 when he gave the "keys to the kingdom of heaven" to His disciple "Simon Bar-Jonah," renaming him to "Peter the rock" upon whom he would build his Church. Though the tradition of Popes changing their names began officially in 533, the tradition flows from Christ renaming Simon to Peter. By ISIS referring to Pope Francis as "Bergoglio," they intend to demean his office title as the Vicar of Christ.
According to the terror watch group MEMRI, the image of a beheaded Pope Francis appeared on the anonymous messaging app Telegram last week. The poster may not necessarily mean a direct threat against the Pope, something ISIS has done ad nauseam throughout their reign, but rather as a call to action for lone wolves.
As Daily Mail reports, "analysts have warned of a possible upsurge in ISIS attacks overseas following the collapse of their so-called Caliphate in the Middle East. The terror group typically uses such attacks as a means of exerting fear and making their influence felt at a time when their power is diminishing."
The diminishing power of ISIS cannot be understated. Under the leadership of President Trump, loosened restrictions on military leaders have enabled resistant forces to fight the caliphate unguarded, culminating in last month's conquering of ISIS strongholds Raqqa and Dier Ezzor.
ISIS typically revels in shedding "Christmas blood," having carried out two major attacks around the holiday season these past two years. In 2015, Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik went on a shooting rampage at an office Christmas party in San Bernardino, Ca., killing 14 people. Last year, 2016, Anis Amri drove a truck into a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 people.