Pope Francis sends message to G20 Interfaith Forum participants and urges religious leaders to seek peace for all people and serve the truth.
By Devin Watkins
The G20 Interfaith Forum is taking place September 12-14 in the Italian city of Bologna and aims to promote healing from the Covid-19 pandemic and the many conflicts that are tearing the world apart.
Religious leaders attending the annual event seek to engage with the agenda of the G20, a forum for international economic cooperation between the world’s 20 largest economies.
Pope Francis addressed his greetings to the participants in the Interfaith Forum on Saturday evening.
The Pope welcomed the objective of the forum to share ideas and hopes through interreligious dialogue and the promotion of religious freedom.
He said that the role of religions is essential in overcoming war and hatred, because “true religion is to worship God and love our neighbor.”
“More than showing anything, we are called to show the paternal presence of the heavenly God through our harmony on earth,” he said.
Abuse of the name of God
Pope Francis went on to deplore the fact that we are, however, far from achieving this ideal.
He cited figures which indicate that more than 3,000 attacks on places of worship have taken place in the past 40 years, killing more than 5,000 people.
“It is too easy to see that those who blaspheme the Holy Name of God by persecuting their brothers and sisters can still find funding,” he said.
Called to serve the truth
However, religious leaders are called to “serve the truth” and “to declare without hesitation and without fear that evil is evil, even and especially when those who do the acts profess our same creed.”
The Pope then called for religious education, to overcome “religious illiteracy” which runs through many societies.
“We must educate,” he said, “promoting equitable and integral development that creates opportunities for schooling and education, because wherever there is unchallenged poverty and ignorance, so too of fundamentalist violence ”.
Peace found in justice, not in arms
Pope Francis urged people of all faiths to put aside arms and forgive one another as brothers and sisters.
“The way to peace is not to be found in arms but in justice”, declared the Pope. “And we, religious leaders, should be the first to support this process, bearing witness to the fact that overcoming evil is not about proclaiming but praying, not in revenge but in harmony, not in the shortcuts offered by the strength but in patience and building strength of solidarity.
Fundamental right to peace
Peace, Pope Francis concluded, must be promoted as a fundamental right for all the peoples of the world.
“We must not be neutral,” he said, “but allies on the side of peace!
The Pope also asked that peace be added as the fourth “P” in the triptych of “People, Planet, Prosperity”.
“Truly, the time for alliances against each other is over,” said Pope Francis. “The time has come to forge alliances in the search for shared solutions to the problems of all. “