Pope Says Believers Must Oppose Violence to Promote Peace
Religious leaders attend the gathering for peace outside the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi 27 Oct. Pictured from left are: Archbishop Norvan Zakarian of the Armenian Apostolic Church; Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury; Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople; Pope Benedict XVI; Rabbi David Rosen, representing the chief rabbinate of Israel; Wande Abimbola, representing the traditional religion of Nigerias Yoruba people; Shrivatsa Goswami, a Hindu delegate; and Ja Seung, he ad of South Koreas Buddhist Jogye order. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
28 Oct 2011 by Cindy Wooden
ASSISI, Italy (CNS) — Taking 300 religious
leaders with him on pilgrimage to Assisi, Pope Benedict
XVI said people who are suspicious of religion cannot be
blamed for questioning Gods existence when they see
believers use religion to justify violence.
All their struggling and questioning is, in part, an
appeal to believers to purify their faith so that God, the
true God, becomes accessible, the pope said Oct. 27
during an interfaith gathering in the Basilica of St. Mary
of the Angels.
Marking the 25th anniversary of the first Assisi
interfaith gathering for peace, hosted by Blessed John Paul
II in 1986, Pope Benedict brought together the religious
leaders and — for the first time —four philosophers who
describe themselves as humanists or seekers who do not
identify with any single religion.
After a train ride of almost two hours from the
Vatican, Pope Benedict and his guests arrived in Assisi
and were driven to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels
for the morning gathering focused on testimonies for
Entering the basilica before the pope, the
delegates created an unusually colorful congregation:
They wore white, black or crimson robes or business suits;
on their heads were skullcaps, turbans, scarves or veils.
The pope condemned the use of religion to excuse
violence and the use of violence to impose a religion, as
well as the growing violence resulting from "the loss of
humanity" that comes from denying the existence of God
and of objective moral standards.
As a Christian, I want to say at this point: Yes, it
is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in
the name of the Christian faith. We acknowledge it with
great shame, Pope Benedict said.
Christian leaders, like all religious leaders, he
said, must work constantly to help their followers purify
their faith and be an instrument of Gods peace in the
world, despite the fallibility of humans.
But a lack of religion is not the answer to world
peace, he said.
The Nazi death camps clearly proved that the
denial of God corrupts man, robs him of his criteria (for
judging right and wrong) and leads him to violence, the
On the other hand, he said, many nonbeliever also
are pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace.
These people are seeking the truth, they are
seeking the true God, whose image is frequently
concealed in the religions because of the ways in which
they are often practiced. Their inability to find God is Thursday, October 27, 2011
partly the responsibility of believers with a limited or even
falsified image of God, he said.
They challenge the followers of religions not to
consider God as their own property, as if he belonged to
them, in such a way that they feel vindicated in using
force against others, the pope said.
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Vatican Interreligious Interfaith Assisi