Reflecting on violent world, Pope says true faith brings peace
By David Kerr
Pope Benedict XVI greets a crowd as he arrives in Assisi, Italy on Oct. 27, 2011. Credit: Getty Images/ L'Osservatore Romano
Pope Benedict XVI greets a crowd as he arrives in Assisi, Italy on Oct. 27, 2011. Credit: Getty Images/ L'Osservatore Romano

.- Pope Benedict XVI used his address at the World Day of Peace gathering in Assisi to reflect on how faith brings peace to the world and how its abuse can lead to violence.
“It is a case of being together on a journey towards truth, a case of taking a decisive stand for human dignity and a case of common engagement for peace against every form of destructive force,” the Pope said to world religious leaders in the Umbrian hill town.

The summit, entitled “Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace,” was convened to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first World Day for Peace, first held by Pope John Paul II in 1986.

Pope Benedict charted how the nature of the threat of global violence has changed in those 25 years with the decline of the Cold War. And yet, he noted, “violence as such is potentially ever present and it is a characteristic feature of our world.”

He said that today’s post-Cold War “world of freedom” “has proved to be largely directionless, and not a few have misinterpreted freedom as somehow including freedom for violence.”

This violence has manifested itself in two seemingly contradictory fashions—religious violence and anti-religious violence.
The most obvious manifestation of the former, he suggested, is terrorism where “in the eyes of the perpetrators, the overriding goal of damage to the enemy justifies any form of cruelty.” Thus, “everything that had been commonly recognized and sanctioned in international law as the limit of violence is overruled.” In this case, “religion does not serve peace, but is used as justification for violence.”

This plays into the hands of the “post-Enlightenment critique of religion” which maintains that “religion is a cause of violence and in this way it has fueled hostility towards religions.” At the same time, the Pope added, this analysis is not entirely without historical foundation.

“As a Christian I want to say at this point: yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith,” he said.

“We acknowledge it with great shame. But it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the Christian faith, one that evidently contradicts its true nature.”

It is therefore the task of all Christian leaders “to purify the religion of Christians again and again from its very heart, so that it truly serves as an instrument of God’s peace in the world, despite the fallibility of humans.”

Yet the removal of God from human society, the Pope observed, has never resulted in harmony and peace but, instead, the “denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds,” because mankind no longer recognizes “any criterion or any judge above himself.”

“The horrors of the concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence,” he stated.

Such God-less violence is not only true of state-sponsored atheism but also of modern secularized societies where “the worship of mammon, possessions and power is proving to be a counter-religion, in which it is no longer man who counts but only personal advantage.” One obvious but specific example of this, he said, is the illegal drugs trade into which many are “seduced and destroyed” both “physically and spiritually.”

“Force comes to be taken for granted,” in many parts of the world, and so “peace is destroyed and man destroys himself in this peace vacuum.”

Finally, Pope Benedict turned his comments to rise of agnosticism in the modern world. For the first time, the Assisi gathering involved atheist and agnostic representatives.

Agnostics, he said, are people “to whom the gift of faith has not been given, but who are nevertheless on the lookout for truth, searching for God.” While they do not simply assert “there is no God,” they still suffer from his absence and yet, said the Pope, they are “inwardly making their way towards him, inasmuch as they seek truth and goodness.”

Their presence in society can blunt the “false certainty” of militant atheists but “they also challenge the followers of religions not to consider God as their own property,” such that they would “feel vindicated in using force against others,” he said.

Pope Benedict also acknowledged that the agnostic’s search for God can sometimes be hindered by the behavior of religious believers, “so all their struggling and questioning is in part an appeal to believers to purify their faith, so that God, the true God, becomes accessible.”

The Pope concluded by assuring all gathered that “the Catholic Church will not let up in her fight against violence, in her commitment for peace in the world.”

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 23, 2014

Wednesday within the Octa ve of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:8-15


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Acts 3:1-10
Gospel:: Lk 24:13-35

Saint of the Day

St. Adalbert of Prague »


Homily of the Day

Mt 28:8-15


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: