Pope slams ‘childlike’ whims of powerful that start wars


SAKHIR, Bahrain – With Russia’s war in Ukraine raging, Pope Francis joined Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders on Friday to call on the major religions to work together for peace. peace, declaring at an interfaith summit that religion should never be used to justify such violence and faith. Leaders must resist the “childlike” whims of the warring powerful.

On his second day in the Gulf Arab Kingdom of Bahrain, Pope Francis closed a conference on East-West dialogue sponsored by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and then met privately with Muslim leaders at home. royal mosque.

This is the second such conference in months, after one in Kazakhstan, evidence of Francis’ core belief that moments of encounter between people of different faiths can help heal differences. conflict today and promote a more just and sustainable world.

Seated around him in the grounds of the royal palace of Sakhir were the Muslim world leaders, the spiritual leaders of Orthodox Christianity, and the rabbis of the United States, who had long participated in religious activities. interreligious dialogue. Speaker after speaker called for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine and the start of peace negotiations. The Russian Orthodox Church, which sent an envoy to the conference, strongly supported the Kremlin in its fight and justified it on religious grounds.

Pope Francis told the meeting that, while the world seemed to be moving away from each other like two opposing seas, the mere presence of religious leaders together was proof that they had “intention to set sail on the same sea, choosing the path of encounter rather than confrontation. . “

“It is a striking paradox that, while much of the world’s population unites to face the same hardships, severe food intolerances, ecological crises and pandemics, as well as inequities. increasingly infamous globally, some potential people are caught up in a determined fight for partisan interests,” he said.

“We seem to be witnessing a dramatic and childish scenario: in the garden of humanity, instead of cultivating our surroundings, we instead play with fire, rockets and bombs. , the weapon that brings pain and death, covers our common home with ashes and hatred. , “I said.

For his part, King Hamad called for a consistent effort to stop Russia’s war in Ukraine and promote peace talks, “for the benefit of all mankind.”

Pope Francis’ second visit to a Gulf Arab country follows his important 2019 trip to Abu Dhabi, where he signed a document promoting Catholic-Muslim fraternity with a Muslim religion. leading Sunni scholar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb. Al-Tayeb is the grand patriarch of Al-Azhar, the seat of Sunni learning in Cairo, and has become an important partner of Pope Francis in promoting greater Christian-Muslim understanding to promote peace. and combat climate change.

Al-Tayeb traveled with Francis to Bahrain and was also in Kazakhstan last month. In his prepared speech, he called for Friday to end the war in Russia “to save the lives of innocent people who had no hand in this violent tragedy”.

Al-Tayeb also called on Sunni and Shiite Muslims to engage in a similar process of dialogue to try to heal their centuries-old division, adding that Al-Azhar was prepared to organize such an encounter. The Sunni-Shiite split in Islam derived from the question of who would succeed the Prophet Muhammad after his death in 632.

“Let us together banish all talk of hate, provocation and excommunication, and put aside ancient and modern conflict in all its forms and all its negative causes,” he said. it,” he said. Bahrain is ruled by a Sunni monarchy that has been accused by human rights groups of systematically discriminating against its Shiite majority, charges the government denies.

Late on Friday, al-Tayeb met privately with Francis, who praised his openness to Shiites. “You have been very courageous today when you speak of dialogue in Islam,” the pope said.

They both then presided over a meeting at the royal mosque between the Vatican delegation and the Muslim Senate, which begins with a young boy reciting the Quran and a young Christian girl. God reads a verse of the Bible. As about 20 outdoor air conditioners chilled the mosque’s courtyard, both Vatican and Muslim speakers listed environmental concerns and climate change as top concerns. of humanity.

As for the assembled imams, Francis stressed that “the Lord of peace never causes war, never incites hatred, never advocates violence.”

Pope Francis also brought his message of dialogue with Bahrain’s Christian leaders by presiding over an ecumenical meeting and praying for peace at Notre Dame Cathedral, the largest Catholic church in the Gulf, was inaugurated last year on land donated by Al to the church. Khalifa.

Pope Francis opened his visit to Bahrain on Thursday by urging the Bahraini authorities give up the death penalty and ensure that basic human rights are guaranteed to all citizens. It is a nod to Shiite dissidents in Bahrain, who say they have been harassed and detained, tortured and “sham trial”, with some stripped of citizenship or were sentenced to death for their political activities. The government denies discriminating against Shiites.

Pope Francis raised the issue of citizenship in his speech Friday, although in general terms, stressing the need for nations to “establish in our society the concept of full citizenship.” enough” and rejecting terms such as minority.

However, Francis also aimed to highlight Bahrain’s tradition of religious tolerance: Unlike neighboring Saudi Arabia, where Christians cannot openly practice their faith, Bahrain It is home to several Christian communities as well as a small Jewish community.

In his prepared remarks before the forum, US Rabbi Marc Schneier, who has long worked to promote Jewish-Muslim understanding and is Al Khalifa’s special advisor on related issues , praising Bahrain as “a model in the Arab world of coexistence and tolerance of different faith communities. “

The Associated Press’s religious coverage is supported through the AP’s partnership with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. AP is solely responsible for this content.


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