Pope: It is 'a blasphemy to invoke God as the justification for one’s own crimes'

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Pope: It is 'a blasphemy to invoke God as the justification for one’s own crimes'

By Iacopo Scaramuzzi/ lastampa.it

Francis met on Friday, February 2, with the participants in a conference on ways of combating religious violence. Chaldean patriarch Sako, “In Iraq, churches and mosques are attacked”

“The religious person knows that among the greatest blasphemies is to invoke God to justify killing, mass murder, enslavement, exploitation, oppression and persecution of individuals and entire populations”. The Pope said this in the audience given this morning at the conference “Tackling violence committed in the name of religion” which takes place in Rome from Wednesday to today in the presence of political and religious leaders from different countries, gathered to reflect on how to “counteract the violence carried out in the name of religion”.

“Violence promoted and carried out in the name of religion can only discredit religion itself. Consequently, such violence must be condemned by all, and especially by genuinely religious persons, who know that God is always goodness, love and compassion, and that in him there is no room for hatred, resentment or vengeance”, Jorge Mario Bergoglio underlined in his speech. The religious person - he added - knows that among the greatest blasphemies is to invoke God as the justification for one’s own sins and crimes, to invoke him in order to justify killing, mass murder, enslavement, exploitation in whatever form, oppression and persecution of individuals and entire populations”. The religious person - the Pope continued - knows that God is the Holy One, and that no one can claim to use his name in order to perpetrate evil. Every religious leader is called to unmask any attempt to manipulate God for ends that have nothing to do with him or his glory. We need to show, with unremitting effort, that every human life is sacred, that it deserves respect, esteem, compassion and solidarity, without regard for ethnicity, religion, culture, or ideological and political convictions”.

“Adherence to a particular religion does not confer additional dignity and rights upon individuals, nor does non-adherence deny or diminish them.” Pope Francis said. “There is a need, then, for a common commitment on the part of political authorities, religious leaders, teachers and those engaged in the fields of education, training and communications, to warn all those tempted by perverse forms of misguided religiosity that these have nothing to do with the profession of a religion worthy of this name. This will help all those people of good will who seek God to encounter him in truth, to encounter the One who sets us free from fear, hatred and violence, and who desires to use the creativity and energy of each person to spread his plan of love and peace, which is offered to all”.

The Pope quoted a passage from his speech at the International Conference for Peace held at the Al-Azhar Muslim University in Cairo: “God, the lover of life, never ceases to love man, and so he exhorts us to reject the way of violence as the necessary condition for every earthly “covenant”. Above all and especially in our day, the religions are called to respect this imperative, since, for all our need of the Absolute, it is essential that we reject any “absolutizing” that would justify violence. For violence is the negation of every authentic religious expression… We have an obligation to denounce violations of human dignity and human rights, to expose attempts to justify every form of hatred in the name of religion, and to condemn these attempts as idolatrous caricatures of God”.

In a speech for the occasion of the international meeting, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphaël I Sako stressed that “inter-religious conflict is a scandal. It is a crime that people are persecuted for their faith, as happened in Iraq where 100 churches have been attacked, burned or destroyed since 2003 along with many mosques. The same thing happened in Syria, Egypt, Nigeria and Nigeria and against the Muslims (Rohingya) of Myanmar and other countries around the world. For Sako,”if different religions sincerely dialogue to understand the importance of religions’ spiritual dimensions, such as obedience to God, respect for mankind and the environment, they will bring peace to the world.

The Chaldean patriarch identifies two main problems: the “literal interpretation” of Sacred Scripture and “the use of religion for political reasons and personal interests”. In particular, “since the Crusades, the Arab world has linked the Middle East Christians to the West. The confusion is so widespread that it is very difficult to remove from people’s minds. In addition, “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is creating tension. The Arab world believes that the West supports Israel against the Palestinians”. Sako is convinced that “our mission as Christians and Muslims in the Middle East is to educate our peoples to pursue peace, primarily by living together in harmony. It may take time, but we will not give up”.

Sat, 02/03/2018 - 10:59
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