Pope: 'The name of God must never be used to justify hatred and violence'

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Kenyans run towards Pope Francis

Pope: 'The name of God must never be used to justify hatred and violence'

By Andrea Tornielli in Nairobi

At his first meeting on the second day of his visit to Africa, Francis met on Thursday, November 26, with leaders of other Christian denominations and other faiths, driving home the fact that the name of God “must never be used to justify hatred and violence”. Inter-religious dialogue “is not a luxury” it is “essential”, he explained.

“The God whom we seek to serve is a God of peace. His holy Name must never be used to justify hatred and violence.” Pope Francis said this this morning at his meeting with leaders of Christian Churches and of other religions in the Apostolic Nunciature in Nairobi: Evangelical Christians, Methodists, Pentecostals and members of the African Inland Church sat beside leaders of the traditional religion of Animism and the Muslim faith. It was a chance for the Pope to stress his condemnation of God’s name being used as a pretext for terrorist acts.

“I know that the barbarous attacks on Westgate Mall, Garissa University College and Mandera,” Francis said recalling the three horrific attacks that bloodied the country over the past three years, “are fresh in your minds. All too often, young people are being radicalized in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies. How important it is that we be seen as prophets of peace, peacemakers who invite others to live in peace, harmony and mutual respect! May the Almighty touch the hearts of those who engage in this violence, and grant his peace to our families and communities.

“It is my hope,” the Pope explained, “that our time together may be a sign of the Church’s esteem for the followers of all religions; may it strengthen the bonds of friendship which we already enjoy. “

“To be honest,” he added, “this relationship is challenging; it makes demands of us. Yet ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue is not a luxury. It is not something extra or optional, but essential, something which our world, wounded by conflict and division, increasingly needs. Indeed, religious beliefs and practice condition who we are and how we understand the world around us. They are for us a source of enlightenment, wisdom and solidarity, and thus enrich the societies in which we live. By caring for the spiritual growth of our communities, by forming minds and hearts in the truths and values taught by our religious traditions, we become a blessing to the communities in which our people live. In democratic and pluralistic societies like Kenya, cooperation between religious leaders and communities becomes an important service to the common good.”

In this light, he concluded, “we see ever more clearly the need for inter-religious understanding, friendship and collaboration in defending the God-given dignity of individuals and peoples, and their right to live in freedom and happiness. By upholding respect for that dignity and those rights, the religions play an essential role in forming consciences, instilling in the young the profound spiritual values of our respective traditions, and training good citizens, capable of infusing civil society with honesty, integrity and a world view which values the human person over power and material gain.”

Thu, 11/26/2015 - 11:50
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