Religious fundamentalism is a “scourge”, according to the pope

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Vatican City – Interfaith dialogue is an important way to counter fundamentalist groups as well as the unfair accusation that religions sow division, Pope Francis said.

Meeting with members of the Argentinian Institute for Interreligious Dialogue on November 18, the Pope declared that in “today’s precarious world, dialogue between religions is not a weakness. It finds its reason for ‘to be in the dialogue of God with humanity “.

Recalling a scene from the 11th century poem, “La Chanson de Roland”, in which Christians threatened Muslims “to choose between baptism or death”, the Pope denounced the fundamentalist mentality that “we can neither accept nor understand and can no longer function ”.

“We have to beware of fundamentalist groups; every (religion) has its own. In Argentina, there are fundamentalist corners there,” he said. “Fundamentalism is a scourge and all religions have a fundamentalist first cousin,” he said.

According to its website, the Institute for Interfaith Dialogue was founded in Buenos Aires in 2002 and was inspired by then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to “promote understanding between men and women of different religious traditions in our city and the world ”.

The Pope welcomed members of the institute who are in Rome to reflect on the document on “human brotherhood” and the improvement of Christian-Muslim relations, which was signed on February 4 by Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb , the Grand Imam of al-Azhar and a leading religious authority for many Sunni Muslims.

The intent of the document, the Pope explained, was a way to embrace a “culture of dialogue” while respecting everyone’s unique identity.

“This is the key: identity cannot be negotiated because if you negotiate your identity, there is no dialogue, there is submission. Each (religion) with its own identity is on the way” of dialogue “, did he declare.

The “complex human reality” of brotherhood, the Pope continued, can be seen in the scriptures when God asks Cain where his brother is.

This same question must be asked today and get members of all religions to think about ways to become “channels of brotherhood instead of walls of division,” he said.

To see the dangers of fundamentalism, Christians must also reflect on their own history, he said, including the Thirty Years’ War, which began in 1618 as a conflict between Catholic and Protestant states, and the massacre. of Saint-Barthélemy of 1572, which saw the targeted assassinations of Huguenots by Catholic crowds in France.

“A little history should scare us,” the Pope said. “Those who are not afraid of the inside should ask themselves why.”

François said he hoped that the document on “human fraternity” would be “well received by the international community, for the good of the human family which must move from simple tolerance to true and peaceful coexistence”.

“It is important to show that we believers are a factor of peace for human societies and, in doing so, we will respond to those who unjustly accuse religions of inciting hatred and provoking violence,” he said. Pope.


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