Pope Condemns Violence in Name of God

Religions Must Be Bridges Between Cultures, He Tells Iranians

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II said religions must be «bridges» between cultures and «signs of hope for humanity,» as he met with delegates of a cultural institution of Iran.

The Iranian citizens were in the Vatican to participate in a colloquium organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue with the Organization for Islamic Culture and Communications in Tehran on «Truth, Justice, Love, Freedom: Pillars of Peace.»

After greeting the director of the Islamic organization, Ayatollah Mahmoud Mohammadi Araqi, who headed the eight-member delegation, the Pope said: «Today there is an especially urgent need for dialogue, understanding and cooperation between the world’s great religions, especially Christianity and Islam.»

«Religion is in fact called to build bridges between individuals, peoples and cultures, to be a sign of hope for humanity,» the Pope said in English.

«I appeal to you, and to all men and women of good will, to join your voices with mine as I repeat that the holy name of God must never be used to incite violence or terrorism, to promote hatred or exclusion,» he stressed.

«I am confident that your continued dialogue and cooperation, of which this colloquium is an eloquent example, will do much to help Christians and Muslims to be ever more effective instruments of peace in our world,» the Holy Father said.

The meeting between the Iranian cultural organization and the Council for Interreligious Dialogue continues a series of symposiums organized since 1999.

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