Pope Francis has said that Christians and Muslims together, must say no to hatred, to revenge and to violence, “particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself.”
The Holy Father stressed this point this morning when speaking to Muslims in the Grand Mosque of Koudoukou in the Central African Republic’s capital of Bangui, reminding those gathered that God is peace. Pope Francis made his first Apostolic Visit to Africa, visiting the capitals of Kenya, Uganda, and CAR, and is due to land in Rome this evening.
“Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters,” the Pope stressed, after noting it was a joy to be with the Muslim community. “We must therefore, consider ourselves and conduct ourselves as such.”
Those who claim to believe in God must also be men and women of peace, he said, acknowledging, ‘We are well aware that the recent events and acts of violence which have shaken your country were not grounded in properly religious motives.” He also recalled that Christians, Muslims and members of the traditional religions have lived together in peace for many years.
Given this, he continued, they ought to “remain united in working for an end to every act which, from whatever side, disfigures the Face of God and whose ultimate aim is to defend particular interests by any and all means, to the detriment of the common good.”
In these dramatic times, the Pontiff lauded that Christian and Muslim leaders have sought to rise to the challenges by working together to play an important role in re-establishing harmony and fraternity among all.
The Pontiff also strongly urged those present to make their country ‘a welcoming home’ for all its children, regardless of their ethnic origin, political affiliation or religious confession. If they do this, he explained, the Central African Republic, situated in the heart of Africa, will then prove a stimulus in this regard to the entire continent, as well as prove a positive influence helping to “extinguish the smoldering tensions which prevent Africans from benefiting from that development, which they deserve and to which they have a right.”
The Holy Father also invited them to pray and work for reconciliation, fraternity and solidarity among all people, and concluded, praying that God bless and protect them.
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