News / Europe

Pope Urges All Religions to Unite for Peace, Justice

Pope Francis meets with various representatives of other religions, at the Vatican, March 20, 2013. (photo L' Osservatore Romano)
Pope Francis meets with various representatives of other religions, at the Vatican, March 20, 2013. (photo L' Osservatore Romano)
Reuters
Pope Francis urged members of all religions and those belonging to no church on Wednesday to unite to defend justice, peace and the environment and not allow the value of a person to be reduced to "what he produces and what he consumes''.
       
Francis, elected a week ago as the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, met leaders of non-Catholic Christian religions such as Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans and Methodists, and others including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus.
       
"The Catholic Church is aware of the importance of furthering respect of friendship between men and women of different religious traditions,'' the Argentine pontiff told the religious leaders in an audience at the Vatican.
       
Speaking in Italian in the frescoed Sala Clementina, he said members of all religions and even non-believers had to recognize their joint responsibility "to our world, to all of creation, which we have to love and protect.
       
''We must do much for the good of the poorest, the weak, and those who are suffering, to favor justice, promote reconciliation and build peace," he said.
       
Francis told the religious leaders to fight ''a one-dimensional vision of a human person, according to which man is reduced to what he produces and what he consumes," which he said was ''one of the most dangerous snares of our times".
       
While he said history had shown that any attempt to eliminate God had produced ''much violence," he reached out to those who seek truth, goodness and beauty without belonging to any religion.
       
''They are our precious allies in the commitment to defend human dignity, build a more peaceful coexistence among people and protect nature with care," he said.
       
Francis' description of people who belong to no religion as ''precious allies" in the search for truth was a marked contrast to the attitude of former Pope Benedict, who sometimes left non-Catholics feeling that he saw them as second-class believers.
       
Since his election a week ago, Francis has set the tone for a new, humbler papacy, calling on the Church to defend the weak and protect the environment.
       
In another sign of his simpler style, Francis addressed the religious leaders while seated in a beige armchair and not the usual elaborate throne used in the ornate hall for audiences.
       
Catholic-Jewish Commitment       

''I feel a great deal of excitement and optimism and hope," said Jerusalem-based Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Inter-religious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee.
       
''He is deeply committed to the Catholic-Jewish relationship," said Rosen, who attended the meeting.
       
Yahya Pallavicini, a leader of Italy's Muslim community, said he was impressed by the pope's insistence of inter-religious friendship.
       
''Friendship is a core way to increase brotherhood between believers and also to increase the deepness of the dignity of humanity," he said after the meeting.
       
''We can't consider man only as a consumer or as someone who has to be considered only in terms of the market but as a believer and as a person who has the holiness in his heart."
       
Before his address, the pope had a private meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew from Istanbul, who attended Francis's inaugural Mass on Tuesday.
       
It was the first time the spiritual head of Orthodox Christians had attended a Roman pope's inaugural Mass since the Great Schism between western and eastern Christianity in 1054.
       
At Wednesday's meeting, Francis called Bartholomew ''my brother Andrew," a reference to the apostle who was the brother of St. Peter and was the first bishop of the Church of Byzantium.
       
Francis also held a private session with Metropolitan Hilarion, the foreign minister of the Russian Orthodox Church, the largest in the Orthodox world.
       
Also at Wednesday's meeting was Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League in the United States.
       
Foxman is a Jew born in Poland in 1940 and saved from the Holocaust by his Polish Catholic nanny, who raised him as a Catholic during the war and then returned him to his family. His parents survived the war but 14 family members were killed.
       
''I asked him to bless the memory of the Catholic nanny who saved my life and he said he would," Foxman said.
       
Archbishop of York John Sentamu led a delegation from the Anglican Communion.
       
Other guests included World Council of Churches General Secretary Rev Olav Fykse Tveit and Jordan's Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, head of an Islamic group that launched a dialogue with the Vatican after Pope Benedict angered Muslims in 2006 with a speech that implied their faith was violent and irrational.

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More