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Religion Can’t Be an Excuse for Hatred, Says Pope

Meets Members of Anti-Defamation League in an Audience

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI prayed that God may bless every effort to eliminate from the world “any misuse of religion as an excuse for hatred and violence.”

The Pope expressed this today in the Apostolic Palace when he received in audience a delegation of the Anti-Defamation League.

The Anti-Defamation League is a U.S.-based association established in 1913 to combat anti-Semitism and intolerance. It has a network of 30 national offices worldwide.

After recalling the audiences granted to this association by Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI emphasized that “in our world today, religious, political, academic and economic leaders are being seriously challenged to improve the level of dialogue between peoples and cultures.”

“To do this effectively requires a deepening of our mutual understanding and a shared dedication to building a society of ever greater justice and peace,” the Holy Father added.

He stressed the need “to know each other better and, on the strength of that mutual discovery, to build relationships not just of tolerance but of authentic respect.”

“Indeed,” the Pope said, “Jews, Christians and Muslims share many common convictions, and there are numerous areas of humanitarian and social engagement in which we can and must cooperate.”

The Second Vatican Council declaration “Nostra Aetate,” in deploring “all forms of hatred or persecution directed against the Jews,” appeals to Christians and Jews “to overcome the conflicts of the past and to create new bonds of friendship and collaboration,” Benedict XVI said.

He said that many steps forward have been taken in the 40 years since that document, and he expressed the hope that a frank dialogue will continue, based on a “solid and fruitful relationship.”

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