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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Arkansas, North Carolina have approved similar laws that gay-marriage opponents say help maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
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 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 Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
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 Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
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 Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
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