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

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures. For now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid