Pope Francis on Thursday urged representatives of different religions to foster a peaceful encounter of believers and genuine religious freedom.
Speaking to some 200 people gathered in the Vatican for an interreligious audience, Pope Francis reflected on the soon- to-end Year of Mercy saying that mercy extends also to the world around us, “to our common home, which we are called to protect and preserve from unbridled and rapacious consumption”.
He pointed out that in today’s hectic and forgetful world we need the oxygen of gratuitous and life-giving love: “We thirst for mercy and no technology can quench that thirst. We seek a love that endures beyond momentary pleasures, a safe harbour where we can end our restless wanderings, an infinite embrace that forgives and reconciles”.
He told those present that common commitment is needed “for an education to sobriety and to respect, to a more simple and orderly way of life”.
Above all, the Pope urged all religions to join in embarking on a path of dialogue, rejecting the aimless paths of disagreement and closed-mindedness.
He appealed to never let it happen again that religions, because of the conduct of some of their followers, convey a distorted message that is out of tune with that of mercy.
“Sadly, not a day passes that we do not hear of acts of violence, conflict, kidnapping, terrorist attacks, killings and destruction. It is horrible that at times, to justify such barbarism, the name of a religion or the name of God himself is invoked. May there be clear condemnation of these iniquitous attitudes that profane the name of God and sully the religious quest of mankind” he said.
Pope Francis concluded his message calling for the peaceful encounter of believers and genuine religious freedom: “Here, our responsibility before God, humanity and the future is great; it calls for unremitting effort, without dissimulation. It is a call that challenges us, a path to be taken together, for the good of all, and with hope”.