ROME – On Friday Pope Francis condemned once more the use of violence in the name of religion and called on political and religious leaders to warn those who have such a misguided interpretation of faith.
“Violence promoted and carried out in the name of religion can only discredit religion itself,” the pope said during an audience at the Vatican with participants at the conference ‘Tackling Violence Committed in the Name of Religion,’ taking place Jan. 30 to Feb. 3.
“Such violence must be condemned by all,” he continued, “especially by genuinely religious persons, who know that God is always goodness, love and compassion, and that in him there is no room for hatred, resentment or vengeance.”
The pope went on to define the religious person as someone who knows that it’s blasphemous to use the name of God to justify evil and wrongdoing. He also made the appeal to all religious persons to be committed in unmasking such attempts to manipulate religion.
“We need to show, with unremitting effort, that every human life is sacred, that it deserves respect, esteem, compassion and solidarity, without regard for ethnicity, religion, culture, or ideological and political convictions,” Francis said.
He said political authorities, religious leaders, teachers and those engaged in the fields of education, training and communications have a responsibility of guaranteeing equal rights and dignity for people of all faiths.
They must “warn all those tempted by perverse forms of misguided religiosity that these have nothing to do with the profession of a religion worthy of this name,” the pope said.
Speaking before the multi-cultural and multi-faith congregation, Francis praised the conference for fostering “dialogue on a subject of such dramatic import,” and thanked participants for their commitment to this cause.
“This will help all those people of good will who seek God to encounter him in truth, to encounter the One who sets us free from fear, hatred and violence, and who desires to use the creativity and energy of each person to spread his plan of love and peace, which is offered to all,” the pope concluded, before blessing their work.
One of the pontiff’s strongest appeals against the use of violence in the name of religion took place during his visit to Egypt in late April of last year, when he condemned these attempts as “idolatrous caricatures of God.”
“Let us say once more a firm and clear ‘No!’ to every form of violence, vengeance and hatred carried out in the name of religion or the name of God,” he said during an international conference on peace hosted by Cairo’s Al-Azhar mosque and university, widely considered the most prestigious center of learning in the Sunni Muslim world.
“Together let us affirm the incompatibility of violence and faith, belief and hatred,” he added.