Pope: “Faiths must steer clear of fundamentalism”

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Selfie with the Pope at the interreligious audience in St. Peter's Square

Pope: “Faiths must steer clear of fundamentalism”

By Iacopo Scaramuzzi/ Vatican Insider

The Pope dedicated the General Audience, on Thursday October 28, in St. Peter’s Square to the 50th anniversary of the conciliar declaration Nostra Aetate and to dialogue between Jews and Muslims.

“Because of violence and terrorism an attitude of suspicion or even condemnation of religions has spread,” but “although no religion is immune from the risk of fundamentalist or extremist deviations in individuals or groups, we must look at the positive values ​​that we live and propose,” in the awareness that “the world looks to us believers, invites us to cooperate with each other and with the men and women of good will who do not profess any religion, it asks us for real answers to many issues,” starting with the commitment to peace, the poor and the environment. Just days after the conclusion of the Synod Assembly, Pope Francis dedicated today’s catechesis at the General Audience in St. peter’s Square, to the 50th anniversary of the Nostra Aetate declaration that emanated from the Second Vatican Council, a document that marked a turning point in relations with Jews, Muslims and the faithful of other non-Christian religions.

The Pope greeted the sick who followed the Audience from the Paul VI hall because of the rain (“You aren’t here because we wanted to put you in prison, but because the weather’s miserable”). Then, in St. Peter’s Square he thanked and welcomed “individuals and groups of different faiths who wanted to be present today, especially those who travelled from afar”.

"The Second Vatican Council was an extraordinary moment of reflection, dialogue and prayer to renew the Catholic Churches’ vision of herself and the world,” Francis noted. “A reading of the signs of the times and ‘updating’ according to a dual fidelity: fidelity to the tradition of the Church and fidelity to the history of the men and women of our time. For God, who revealed himself in creation and history, who has spoken through the prophets and fully in his Son made man, speaks to the heart and spirit of every human being who seeks the truth and ways to practice it. "

After recalling the highlights of Nostra Aetate, the Pope mentioned - among the many events for the promotion of inter-religious dialogue that have taken place in recent years – “the meeting in Assisi on 27 October 1986” that “St. John Paul II had announced a year before - so thirty years ago. Addressing young Muslims in Casablanca at that meeting, he expressed the wish that all believers in God would promote friendship and unity between individuals and peoples (19 August 1985). The flame, lit in Assisi, has spread around the world and is a permanent sign of hope.”

The Pope then underlined the “real transformation that has taken place over the last 50 years in the relationship between Christians and Jews”. “Indifference and opposition have been transformed into cooperation and goodwill. Enemies and strangers, have become friends and brothers. The Council, with the Nostra Aetate Declaration, paved the way: 'yes' to the rediscovery of the Jewish roots of Christianity; 'No' to every form of anti-Semitism and condemnation of all insults, discrimination and persecution that come with it. Knowledge, respect and mutual esteem are the path that, if that is so peculiar to the relationship with the Jews, also applies to relations with other religions. Here, I think particularly of Muslims, who - as the Council reminds us - "worship the one living and subsistent God, merciful and almighty, creator of heaven and earth, Who has spoken to men" (Nostra Aetate, 5). They refer to the paternity of Abraham, venerate Jesus as a prophet, honour his virgin mother, Mary, they await the day of judgment, and practice prayer, almsgiving and fasting.”

“The world looks to us believers,” the Pope said, “ it invites us to cooperate with each other and with the men and women of good will who do not profess any religion, it asks us for real answers to many issues: peace, hunger, poverty which are affecting millions of people, the environmental crisis, violence, especially violence committed in the name of religion, corruption, moral decay, the crisis of the family, the economy, finance, and above all hope. We believe we have no quick fix for these problems, but we have a great resource: prayer. And we believers pray, we pray! Prayer is our treasure, from which we draw in accordance with our traditions, for the gifts to which humanity yearns." Because of violence and terrorism,” Francis underlined, “an attitude of suspicion or even condemnation of religions has spread. In fact, although no religion is immune from the risk of fundamentalist or extremist deviations in individuals or groups, we must look at the positive values ​​that we live and propose, and which are sources of hope. We must go even further. Dialogue based on trust than can sow good seeds which in turn become shoots of friendship and cooperation in many fields, especially in service to the poor, the young, the elderly, in the reception of migrants, attention to those who are excluded. We can journey together taking care of each other and of creation. All believers, of all religions!

"The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, now before us, is a good opportunity to work together in the field of charity,” the Pope stressed. “And in this field, where compassion counts above all else, so many people who do not feel or believe that they are looking for God and the truth can join us, people who look at the other's face, particularly the face of his brother or sister in need. The Pope concluded today’s Audience by inviting those gathered in St. peter’s Square to join in “silent prayer”: “Each may pray according to his or her own tradition, in silence: we ask the Lord to strengthen the fraternal ties between us and make us greater servants of our neediest brother and sisters.”

At the start of the Audience, besides the Nostra Aetate passages that were read out in various languages, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue also took the floor to say a few introductory words: “thanks to his virtuous testimony, which encourages us to continue along the path of interreligious dialogue, approaching others with a clear awareness of our identity but with a spirit of great respect, esteem and friendship, ready to work together with those who pray and think differently than us”. Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and head of the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews also spoke. He condemned the “new waves of anti-Semitism” today. The presentation of the International Conference Nostra Aetate that is taking place at the Pontifical Gregorian University (26-28 October), is being held in the Vatican Press Office today.

Thu, 10/29/2015 - 10:39
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