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25 February 2013
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Pope Benedict XVI, Rabbi David Rosen and Wande Abimbola, representative for the Yoruba religion of Nigeria, smile as a dove is held up during the interfaith meeting for peace outside the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy,
on 27 October 2011. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
In October of 2011, Pope Benedict made a pilgrimage to Assisi to meet with other religious leaders and mark the 25th anniversary of the first interfaith gathering for peace there, hosted by Pope John Paul II in 1986.
As CNS reported at the time:
After a train ride of almost two hours from the Vatican, Pope Benedict and his guests arrived in Assisi and were driven to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels for the morning gathering focused on “testimonies for peace.”
Entering the basilica before the pope, the delegates created an unusually colorful congregation: They wore white, black or crimson robes or business suits; on their heads were skullcaps, turbans, scarves or veils.
The pope condemned the use of religion to excuse violence and the use of violence to impose a religion, as well as the growing violence resulting from “the loss of humanity” that comes from denying the existence of God and of objective moral standards.
“As a Christian, I want to say at this point: Yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith. We acknowledge it with great shame,” Pope Benedict said.
Christian leaders, like all religious leaders, he said, must work constantly to help their followers purify their faith and be “an instrument of God’s peace in the world, despite the fallibility of humans.”
But a lack of religion is not the answer to world peace, he said.
The Nazi death camps clearly proved that “the denial of God corrupts man, robs him of his criteria (for judging right and wrong) and leads him to violence,” the pope said.
On the other hand, he said, many nonbeliever also are “pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace.”
Tags: Pope Benedict XVI Ecumenism Orthodox Interfaith Judaism