Here is a translation of a declaration issued today by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue:
The whole world watches, amazed, at what is now called “the restoration of the Caliphate”, which was abolished October 29, 1923 by Kamal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey.
Despite most Muslim religious and political institutions contesting that “restoration”, it has not prevented the jihadists “Islamic State” to commit and continue to commit unspeakable criminal acts.
The Pontifical Council, all those engaged in interreligious dialogue, the followers of all religions as well as men and women of good will can only denounce and condemn unambiguously these shameful practices of man:
-the slaughter of people solely because of their religious beliefs;
-the abhorrent practice of beheading, crucifixion and hanging corpses in public places;
-the choice imposed on Christians and Yazidis between conversion to Islam, payment of tax (jizya) or exodus
– the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of people, including children, the elderly, pregnant women and the sick;
-the kidnapping of girls and women belonging to the Yazidi and Christian communities as war booty;
-the imposition of the barbaric practice of infibulation;
-the destruction of places of worship and Christian-Muslim mausoleums;
-the forced occupation or desecration of churches and monasteries;
-the removal of crucifixes and other Christian religious symbols and those of other religious communities;
-the destruction of the invaluable, Christian religious and cultural heritage;
-the abject violence that terrorizes people into surrendering or fleeing.
No cause can justify such barbarity and certainly not a religion. This is an extremely serious offense to humanity and to God who is the Creator, as Pope Francis has often said.
We cannot forget, however, that Christians and Muslims have lived together – it is true with many ups and downs – over the centuries, building a culture of friendliness and a civilization of which they are proud. Moreover, it is on this basis that in recent years, the dialogue between Christians and Muslims has continued and deepened.
The plight of Christians, Yazidis and many other religious and ethnic minority communities in Iraq demands a clear and courageous stance on the part of religious leaders, especially Muslims, those engaged in interfaith dialogue and everyone of goodwill. All must be unanimous in condemning unequivocally these crimes and denouncing the invocation of religion to justify them. Otherwise what credibility will religions, their followers and their leaders have? Even after patiently pursuing interreligious dialogue in recent years, what credibility will there be?
Religious leaders are also called to exercise their influence on rulers to help end these crimes, punish those who commit them and restore the rule of law throughout the country, ensuring that those expelled return home. Recalling the need for ethics in running humane societies, these same religious leaders must not fail to stress that the support, funding and arming of terrorism is morally reprehensible.
That being said, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is grateful to all those who have raised their voices to condemn terrorism, especially those who use religion to justify it.
We unite our voice with that of Pope Francis: “May the God of peace stir up every genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated by violence. Violence is conquered by peace “.[Original text: French] [Working translation by ZENIT]