News / Europe

Pope Presides Over Interfaith Call for Peace

From left, Canterbury Archbishop Rowan Douglas Williams, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Pope Benedict XVI and Rabbi David Rosen look on as a person holds a dove released during a peace meeting in front of the St. Francis Basilica in Assisi, central
From left, Canterbury Archbishop Rowan Douglas Williams, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Pope Benedict XVI and Rabbi David Rosen look on as a person holds a dove released during a peace meeting in front of the St. Francis Basilica in Assisi, central

Pope Benedict XVI presided over his first inter-religious gathering Thursday in the Umbrian hilltop town of Assisi. But unlike the meeting called by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, 25 years ago, there were no common prayers with Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims.

Pope Benedict welcomed some 300 leaders representing a rainbow of faiths to Assisi, Italy, the birthplace of Saint Francis, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of a day-long prayer for peace called by Pope John Paul II in 1986 amid Cold War conflicts.

Leading the global interfaith meeting, the pope acknowledged that Christianity has in the past used force, but he said violence in God’s name has no place in today’s world.   

Addressing religious representatives in a basilica in Assisi, the pope said that it is true that in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith. He added that "We acknowledge this with great shame." He also said this was clearly an abuse of the Christian faith, one that contradicts its true nature.

Thursday’s meeting included some novelties that the original lacked. Buddhist monks from mainland China were on hand, as were four people who profess no faith at all - part of Benedict’s efforts to reach out to agnostics and atheists.

Also present was the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and representatives of Greek, Russian, Serbian and Belorussian Orthodox churches. Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist leaders were also in attendance, joined by 60 Muslims and several rabbis.

The German-born Benedict noted that in the quarter-century since his predecessor’s peace meeting in Assisi, the Berlin Wall had crumbled without bloodshed and the world was without any great new wars. But the pontiff said nations are still full of discord and that religion is now frequently being used to justify violence.

The pope said it is known that terrorism is often religiously motivated and that the religious character of the attacks is proposed as a justification for such reckless cruelty. He said terrorists consider themselves entitled to discard the rules of morality for the sake of what they perceive as the intended good.

Pope Benedict spoke of the need for God to be present in people’s lives. He said that the horrors of concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence.

The Assisi gathering did not include common prayers among the delegates. Pope Benedict disapproves of members of different faiths praying in the presence of one another. And so the 300 participants were given time to pray silently in individual rooms.

The delegates all traveled together to Assisi on a special papal train that left early Thursday from the Vatican’s train station. They return to Rome Thursday evening for a special audience with Benedict inside the Vatican on Friday.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs