On the topic of different forms of fundamentalism that have gripped the global scene over the past year, the Pope said that when it comes to religion, “every expression of religion is called to promote peace.”
“There has been no shortage of acts of religiously motivated violence, beginning with Europe itself, where the historical divisions between Christians have endured all too long,” he said, noting that healing the wounds of the past means above all “journeying together toward common goals” on a path of genuine dialogue.
However, he noted that “sadly” religion has been used as “a pretext for rejection, marginalization and violence.”
Over the past year, fundamentalist terrorism “has also reaped numerous victims throughout the world,” he said, pointing to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, the United States of America, Tunisia and Turkey as just a few examples.
“We are dealing with a homicidal madness which misuses God’s name in order to disseminate death, in a play for domination and power,” the Pope said, renewing his appeal for all religious authorities “to join in reaffirming unequivocally that one can never kill in God’s name.”
“Fundamentalist terrorism is the fruit of a profound spiritual poverty, and often is linked to significant social poverty,” he said, noting that the only way for it to be fully defeated is with “the joint contribution of religious and political leaders.”
Pope Francis insisted that political authorities ought to focus not just on the security of their own citizens, “a concept which could easily be reduced to a mere ‘quiet life,’” but are also concerned with working “actively” for the growth of peace on a global level.
Peace, he said, “is an active virtue, one that calls for the engagement and cooperation of each individual and society as a whole.”
Turning to the Jubilee of Mercy, Francis said part of building “a culture of mercy” means eliminating indifference and striving to become societies that “are open and welcoming toward foreigners and at the same time internally secure and at peace.”
“This is all the more needed at the present time, when massive waves of migration continue in various parts of the world,” he said, calling for a “common commitment” to offering migrants and displaced persons “a dignified welcome.”
On the topic of migrants, the Pope stressed that respect must be given both right of every person to migrate while at the same time ensuring that incoming foreigners are fully integrated into their new society without feeling “their security, cultural identity and political-social stability are threatened.”
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However, he also said incoming migrants must “not forget that they have a duty to respect the laws, culture and traditions of the countries in which they are received.”
For public authorities to have prudence “does not mean enacting policies of exclusion vis-à-vis migrants,” but rather entails “evaluating, with wisdom and foresight, the extent to which their country is in a position, without prejudice to the common good of citizens, to offer a decent life to migrants, especially those truly in need of protection,” he said.
The issue of migration isn’t one that just some countries have to face while others are indifferent, he said, stressing that “all should feel responsible” for pursuing international policies aimed at promoting solidarity and the common good.
Pope Francis then voiced his thanks to the countries who have taken on the bulk of the burden of the migration crisis, naming Italy, Germany, Greece and Sweden in particular.
He called for a quick and peaceful resolution to the “brutal conflict” in Syria, asking the international community “to make every effort to encourage serious negotiations for an end to the conflict, which is causing a genuine human catastrophe.”
“Each of the parties must give priority to international humanitarian law, and guarantee the protection of civilians and needed humanitarian aid for the populace,” he said, voicing his hope that the recently-signed truce “will be a sign of hope for the whole Syrian people, so greatly in need of it.”