Cultural Exchanges Urged by Holy Father

As a Way to Avoid a Clash of Civilizations

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 9, 2006 ( The danger of the clash of civilizations, made more acute by terrorism, can be avoided with a greater knowledge of cultures, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope expressed this conviction today in his address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.

Assessing the world situation, the Holy Father said that «attention has rightly been drawn to the danger of a clash of civilizations,» a danger «made more acute by organized terrorism, which has already spread» worldwide.

«Its causes are many and complex, not least those to do with political ideology combined with aberrant religious ideas,» he added.

Terrorism, Benedict XVI continued, «does not hesitate to strike defenseless people, without discrimination, or to impose inhuman blackmail, causing panic among entire populations, in order to force political leaders to support the designs of the terrorists.»

«No situation can justify such criminal activity, which covers the perpetrators with infamy, and it is all the more deplorable when it hides behind religion, thereby bringing the pure truth of God down to the level of the terrorists’ own blindness and moral perversion,» the Pope insisted.

Higher design

As a countermeasure the Pontiff advocated «commitment to truth on the part of diplomatic missions, at both bilateral and multilateral level,» so that «the undeniable differences between peoples from different parts of the world and their cultures» may be reconciled «not only in a tolerant coexistence, but according to a higher and richer design of humanity.»

«In past centuries, cultural exchanges between Judaism and Hellenism, between the Roman world, the Germanic world and the Slav world, and also between the Arabic world and the European world, have enriched culture and have favored sciences and civilizations,» the Holy Father said.

«So it should be again today, and to an even greater extent, since the possibilities of exchange and mutual understanding are much more favorable,» noted the Pope.

Benedict XVI called for «the removal of everything that impedes access to information, through the press and through modern information technology and, in addition, an increase in exchanges between scholars and students from the humanities faculties of universities in different cultural regions.»

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