A joint declaration from the leaders of various world religions has soundly condemned the use of violence in the service of religion, Agence France-Presse reports.
Some 300 Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu leaders and political figures gathered at an inter-religious summit in Naples. On Tuesday they decried violence in a joint declaration. "We can say with more emphasis than before that whoever uses God's name to hate others, to commit violent acts, to make war, blasphemes the name of God." Violence "strikes innocents and disfigures humanity," they said, adding "violence is always a defeat for all of us."
The three-day summit, titled "A World Without Violence: Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue," was organized by the Rome-based lay Catholic community of Saint Egido. It is an annual event.
Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, the Ashkenazi great rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger, imam Ibrahim Ezzedin of the United Arab Emirates, Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams and the head of the Ecumenical Council of Churches Samuel Kobia attended, as well as several Catholic cardinals.
The joint statement quoted Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday address to the meeting: "Never, evoking the name of God, can one justify evil and violence." In his address the Pope had also urged the attendees to "promote reconciliation among peoples ... with respect for the differences among various religions."
Near the close of the summit, the delegates prayed separately and then joined a "peace procession" led by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.