It is never easy to know what Francis means. Perhaps, in that, he is being deliberate.
But unlike John Paul’s kissing the Koran, this is not an action (picturesque but ambiguous): these are words with a plain meaning:
The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings.
Francis needs now to explain, first of all, what he is NOT saying.
Is religion, then, like ‘colour, sex, and race’ – an accident of biology for which the individual cannot be held responsible? Or is it like language – a social construct indigenous to a particular ethnic group? *
Neither of these sits easily with the Church’s notion of the Faith as a personal commitment to Truth divinely revealed and constituted. Nor are they consonant with traditional Islamic theology and the teaching of the Koran. To contemporary liberal indifferentists, the absolute claims of both religions are, of course, an embarrassment; but they are an indispensable part of the self-understanding of each.
*Or, in the Babel story, a God-given punishment for hubris