Religious fundamentalism is a scourge, says Pope
Interreligious dialogue can counter fundamentalist groups as well as the unjust accusation that religions sow division, Pope Francis has said.
Meeting with members of the Argentine Institute for Interreligious Dialogue Nov. 18, the pope said that in “today’s precarious world, dialogue between religions is not a weakness. to be in God’s dialogue with humanity”.
Recalling a scene from the 11th century poem, The Song of Roland, in which Christians threatened Muslims “to choose between baptism or death”, the pope denounced the fundamentalist mentality.
“We have to beware of fundamentalist groups, each (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.”
The Institute for Interreligious 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 around the world.
To see the dangers of fundamentalism, Christians must also reflect on their own history, he said.
The Thirty Years’ War began in 1618 as a conflict between Catholic and Protestant states, and the 1572 massacre saw the targeted killing of Huguenots by Catholic mobs in France, the pope said.
“A little history should scare us,” he said.
The members of the institute met in Rome to reflect on the document on “human fraternity” and to improve relations between Christians and Muslims, as agreed between Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar and a leading authority in Sunni Muslim thought.
The document, the pope explained, aims 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 path of dialogue “, did he declare.
The “complex human reality” of brotherhood, the pope continued, can be seen in Scripture when God asks Cain where his brother is.