Saturday, November 5, 2011

In the World Inter-Faith Gathering, Pope Expresses Shame for Christians' Use of Force In the Name of Religion

In the inter-faith gathering in Assissi are seen (from left) 
Archbishop Norvan Zakarian (Armenian Apostolic Church), 
Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury (Anglican Church),
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople (Eastern 
Orthodox Church), Pope Benedict XVI (Roman Catholic Church), 
Rabbi David Rosen (Chief Rabbinate of Israel), 
Wande Abimbola (representing traditional religion 
of the Yoruba people, Nigeria) and 
Shrivatsa Goswami (representing Hinduism)
Photo @ courtesy of:

Pope Benedict XVI, on October 27, welcomed 300 leaders of different religions in Assissi, Italy, and appealed all to work for peace and dialogue. The theme of the one-day gathering was “Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace.” 

Leaders present were Catholics, Anglicans, Protestants, Armenian Christians, Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Shintoists, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, African indigenous religions and others. In addition, four non-believers of God, called ‘atheists,’ were also there, report Reuters and The Catholic Register. This event also marks the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s initiative for peace by inviting leaders of world religions in Assissi in 1986. Assissi is the hometown of St. Francis, who is well-known as a symbol of peace. 

The emphasis of the Pope’s address was how the faith can bring peace and how its absence can lead to violence. The Pope also mentioned that this violence is showing itself in two contradictory fashions – religious violence and anti-religious violence. He called the first one ‘terrorism,’ which maintains that “religion is a cause of violence, and, in this way, it has fueled hostility towards religions.” At the same time, he said, this analysis is not entirely without historical foundation. 

“As a Christian I want to say at this point: Yes, it is true; in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith,” he said.

“We acknowledge it with great shame. But it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the Christian faith, one that evidently contradicts its true nature.”

By this the pope meant the use of force by Christians during the Crusades in the Middle East and against people of the New World (especially, in the Americas) to spread the Christianity. Pope John Paul II, in 2000, also mentioned and apologized for Christianity’s historical failures.

“Violence never again! War never again! Terrorism never again! In the name of God, may every religion bring upon Earth justice and peace, forgiveness and life, love,” the pope said.
The pope said history had also shown the denial of God could bring about “a degree of violence that knows no bounds.” The concentration camps of Hitler and his German Nazis during the Second World War revealed “with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence.”

 The full text of Pope Benedict XVI can be read below:

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