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)
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

Map Shows Every US School Shooting Since 2013

There have been at least 150 school shootings in the United States since 2013, an average of nearly one per week More

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs