All religious leaders must condemn any ‘absolutizing’ that justifies violence, stressing that violence is the negation of every authentic religious expression.
Pope Francis made this appeal in the Vatican this morning, Feb. 2, 2018, when addressing participants in the “Tackling violence committed in the name of religion” conference.
The Holy Father began by reiterating what he said during his April 2017 visit to Egypt: “God, the lover of life, never ceases to love man, and so he exhorts us to reject the way of violence.”
Violence in Name of God Must Be Denounced by All
Above all and especially in our day, the Pope said, the religions are called to respect this imperative, since, for all our need of the Absolute, it is essential that we reject any ‘absolutizing’ that would justify violence.
Violence, Francis said, is the negation of every authentic religious expression. “We have an obligation to denounce violations of human dignity and human rights, to expose attempts to justify every form of hatred in the name of religion, and to condemn these attempts as idolatrous caricatures of God.”
Violence promoted and carried out in the name of religion can only discredit religion itself.
“Consequently, such violence must be condemned by all, and especially by genuinely religious persons, who know that God is always goodness, love and compassion, and that in him there is no room for hatred, resentment or vengeance.”
The Greatest Blasphemies
“The religious person knows that among the greatest blasphemies is to invoke God as the justification for one’s own sins and crimes, to invoke him in order to justify killing, mass murder, enslavement, exploitation in whatever form, oppression and persecution of individuals and entire populations.”
“The religious person knows that God is the Holy One, and that no one can claim to use his name in order to perpetrate evil, the Pope said, appealing: “Every religious leader is called to unmask any attempt to manipulate God for ends that have nothing to do with him or his glory.”
The Holy Father encouraged all such leaders to always show that every human life is sacred, and deserves respect, esteem, compassion and solidarity, without regard for ethnicity, religion, culture, or ideological and political convictions.
Adherence to a particular religion, the Holy Father underscored, does not confer additional dignity and rights upon individuals, nor does non-adherence deny or diminish them.
There is a need, the Pope stressed, for a common commitment on the part of political authorities, religious leaders, teachers and those engaged in the fields of education, training and communications, “to warn all those tempted by perverse forms of misguided religiosity that these have nothing to do with the profession of a religion worthy of this name.”
This, the Pontiff said, will help all those people of good will who seek God to encounter Him in truth, to encounter “the One who sets us free from fear, hatred and violence,” and who desires each person spreads his plan of love and peace.
Pope Francis concluded, praying that God bless him and their work.
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