Church has role in mediation of peace in Middle East, says new secretary of state

.- The role of the Catholic Church in light of the crises in the Middle East is to serve as a mediator and to seek peace, said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is set to start tomorrow as the Vatican’s new secretary of state. He will succeed the retiring Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

“The Church works to unite, to rejoin, to re-solder the chains broken by violence,” said Cardinal Bertone in response to a question about the Vatican’s objectives regarding the crises in the Middle East, Italian paper “Il Messaggero” reported.

The new secretary of state said he would meet and dialogue with representatives of other religions. “It’s part of the mission of the Church,” he remarked.

The cardinal also upheld Pope Benedict XVI’s comments earlier this week that God, who is love, calls his people to love one another and not to act out of violence.  

“It is necessary to return to the original matrix of human life, which is love,” said the cardinal in response to a question regarding the Pope’s comments Tuesday that jihad, the Islamic concept of “holy war” said to be fought in the name of God, are actually against God.

“Placing God at the center of one’s life and of one’s ideals, this is the truth,” said Cardinal Bertone. “Loving God means loving your neighbor with whom Jesus identifies and welcoming every human person.”

On Tuesday, the Pope said Catholic theology holds that, “violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.” He added that Mohammed’s teaching on jihad (holy war) is divergent from Christianity’s view that spreading the faith through violence is intrinsically unreasonable.

The Pope also quoted 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who said: "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death.”

In the interview, Cardinal Bertone noted that the origins of the crisis in the West is based on its choice to distance itself from God, and not placing at the centre of its ideals a stable and shared truth.

“The crisis is relativism,” he said. “There is a need to return to the truth that gives full meaning to human life. We need to return to the search for truth and to the ‘interiorization’ of these ideals.”

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