Pope Benedict XVI has denounced religiously-motivated terrorism at a meeting with 300 leaders of world religions in Assisi aimed at repudiating violence in the name of God.
“We know that terrorism is often religiously motivated and that the specifically religious character of the attacks is proposed as a justification for the reckless cruelty that considers itself entitled to discard the rules of morality for the sake of the intended ‘good’,” he said.
“This is not the true nature of religion. It is the antithesis of religion and contributes to its destruction,” he added during the day of inter-religious council held in St Francis of Assisi’s birthplace in northern Italy on Thursday.
More than 50 Islamic representatives were attending the talks as well as Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, a Zoroastrian, a Bahai and representatives of Taoism, Confucianism and traditional religions from Africa and America.
The pontiff admitted that Christians were guilty of having used violence in the name of God in the past.
“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. But it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the Christian faith,” he said.
He also called on all those present to “try to identify the new faces of violence and discord more closely.”
The event marks the 25th anniversary of the first inter-religious meeting in Assisi, organised by John Paul II in 1986, and is intended to be a “journey of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world”.
For the first time, four atheists will also attend the meeting, which is being criticised by Catholic fundamentalists who are strongly against the idea of dialogue with other religions.
© 2011 AFP