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 VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs