Pope Benedict Calls for Christians, Muslims to Unite Against Violence

The Holy Father made a statement on Vatican Radio yesterday calling for Christians and Muslims to unite against violence. Rather than discuss what he said, I decided to reproduce the article from Vatican Radio for you to read without editing. You can find the original on the Vatican website here.

Pope: Christians and Muslims united against war


2012-09-19 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) – It is time for Christians and Muslims to come together in a decided and sincere witness against divisions, violence and war: This was Pope Benedict XVI’s clear message Wednesday morning, during his general audience at the Vatican. Emer McCarthy reports Listen: 

The Pope spoke of his recent Apostolic voyage to Lebanon to the 8, 000 pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI hall, stressing that he had strongly wanted this the trip to go ahead, because “a father should always be near his children when they encounter grave problems”, and to bring a message of encouragement and peace, in particular for Syria and Iraq.
Pope Benedict said that during his visit, the people of Lebanon and the Middle East – Catholics, representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of the various Muslim communities – enthusiastically and in a relaxed and constructive atmosphere, experienced the importance of mutual respect, understanding and brotherhood, which is a strong sign of hope for all humanity. He added that the constant presence and participation of Muslims gave him the opportunity to launch a call to dialogue and collaboration between Christianity and Islam”.

Benedict XVI also expressed his profound gratitude for the fervent faith and witness of the thousands of Catholics from Lebanon and the Middle East who accompanied each stage of his visit. It is a sign of hope, he concluded “for the future of the Church in those lands: young people, adults and families motivated by a strong desire to root their lives in Christ, to remain anchored to the Gospel, to walk together in the Church”.

Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s address:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I would like to briefly return, in my thoughts and heart, to those extraordinary days of my Apostolic journey to Lebanon. A trip that I had strongly wanted, despite the difficult circumstances, considering that a father should always be near his children when they encounter grave problems. I was moved by a sincere desire to announce the peace that the risen Lord gave to his disciples and summarized in the words “My peace I give to you – سلامي أعطيكم” (Jn 14:27). The main aim of my journey was the signing and consignment of the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente to the representatives of the Catholic communities of the Middle East, to other Churches and ecclesial communities as well as Muslim leaders.

It was a moving ecclesial event and, at the same time, a provident opportunity for dialogue lived in a complex but emblematic country for the entire region, because of its tradition of coexistence and fruitful cooperation between the different religious and social components. In the face of the suffering and tragedies that continue in that area of the Middle East, I expressed my heartfelt closeness to the legitimate aspirations of those dear people, bringing them a message of encouragement and peace. I am thinking in particular of the terrible conflict that torments Syria, causing, in addition to thousands of deaths, a stream of refugees that pours into the region desperately seeking security and a future; neither have I forgotten the plight of Iraq. During my visit, the people of Lebanon and the Middle East – Catholics, representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of the various Muslim communities – enthusiastically and in a relaxed and constructive atmosphere, experienced the importance of mutual respect, understanding and brotherhood, which is a strong sign of hope for all humanity. But it was the encounter with the Catholic faithful of Lebanon and the Middle East, present in their thousands, which aroused in me a feeling of deep gratitude for the ardor of their faith and their witness.

I thank the Lord for this precious gift, which gives hope for the future of the Church in those areas: youth, adults and families motivated by the strong desire to root their lives in Christ, to remain anchored to the Gospel, to walk together in the Church. I renew my gratitude also to all who worked tirelessly for my visit: the Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon with their staff, the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, consecrated persons and the lay faithful, which are a precious and meaningful reality in Lebanese society. I was able to observe firsthand that the Lebanese Catholic communities, through their presence and their millennial commitment full of hope, offer a significant and valued contribution to the daily lives of all the inhabitants of the country. My respect and gratitude go to the Lebanese authorities, institutions and associations, volunteers and all those who have offered their support in prayer. I can not forget the warm welcome I received from the President of the Republic, Mr. Michel Sleiman, as well as the various components of the country and the people: it was a warm welcome, in line with the famous Lebanese hospitality. Muslims welcomed me with great respect and sincere consideration, their constant presence and participation gave me the opportunity to launch a call to dialogue and collaboration between Christianity and Islam: it seems to me that the time has come for us to give a decided and sincere witness together against the divisions and wars. The Catholics, who also came from neighboring countries, fervently expressed their deep affection for the Successor of Peter.

After the beautiful ceremony on my arrival at Beirut airport, the first meeting was of particular solemnity: the signing of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, in the Greek-Catholic Basilica of St. Paul in Harissa. On that occasion I invited Catholics in the Middle East to fix their gaze on Christ Crucified to find the strength, even in difficult and painful contexts, to celebrate the victory of love over hate, forgiveness over revenge and unity over division. I assured them all that the universal Church is closer than ever, with affection and prayer, to the Church in the Middle East: they, despite being a “little flock”, need not fear, knowing that the Lord is always with them. The Pope does not forget them.

On the second day of my Apostolic Journey I met the representatives of the institutions of the Republic and the world of culture, the diplomatic corps and religious leaders. To them, among others, I pointed a way forward to promote a future of peace and solidarity: this means working so that cultural, social and religious differences result in a sincere dialogue, a new fraternity, united by a shared sense of the greatness and dignity of every person, whose life must always be defended and protected. On the same day I had a meeting with the heads of Muslim religious communities, which took place in a spirit of dialogue and mutual benevolence. I thank God for this meeting. The world today needs clear and strong signs of dialogue and cooperation, of which Lebanon has been and must continue to be an example to the Arab countries and the rest of the world.

In the afternoon, at the residence of the Maronite Patriarch, I was greeted by the irrepressible enthusiasm of thousands of young people from Lebanon and from neighboring countries, who gave rise to a moment of great celebration and prayer, that will remain unforgettable for many. I pointed out their good fortune to live in that part of the world that saw Jesus, Crucified and Risen for our salvation, and the development of Christianity, exhorting them to fidelity and love for their land, despite the difficulties caused by the lack of stability and security. In addition, I encouraged them to be firm in their faith, trusting in Christ, the source of our joy, and to deepen their personal relationship with Him in prayer, as well as to be open to the great ideals of life, family, friendship and solidarity. Seeing young Christians and Muslims celebrate in great harmony, I encouraged them to build together the future of Lebanon and the Middle East and to oppose violence and war. Harmony and reconciliation must be stronger than the forces of death.

On Sunday morning, there was a very intense moment of great participation in the Holy Mass at the City Center Waterfront in Beirut, accompanied by evocative hymns and chants, which also characterized other celebrations. In the presence of many bishops and a large crowd of faithful from all over the Middle East, I urged everyone to live and to witness their faith without fear, knowing that the vocation of the Christian and the Church is to bring the Gospel to all without distinction, following the example of Jesus in a context marked by bitter conflicts, I drew attention to the need to serve peace and justice by becoming instruments of reconciliation and builders of communion. At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, I had the joy of presenting the Apostolic Exhortation which gathers the conclusions of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. Through the Patriarchs and Eastern and Latin Bishops, priests, religious and laity, this Document wants to reach all the faithful of that dear land, to support them in their faith and communion and encourage them on the path of the much hoped for new evangelization. In the afternoon, at the headquarters of the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate, I then had the joy of a fraternal ecumenical meeting with the Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs and representatives of those Churches, as well as other Ecclesial Communities.

Dear friends, the days spent in Lebanon were a wonderful manifestation of faith and religious feeling and a prophetic sign of peace. The multitude of believers from the entire Middle East, had the opportunity to reflect, to talk and especially to pray together, renewing their commitment to root their lives in Christ. I am sure that the people of Lebanon, in its varied but well blended religious and social composition, will know how to witness with renewed impetus to the true peace that comes from faith in God. I hope that the messages of peace and respect that I wanted to give, will help governments of the region to take decisive steps towards peace and a better understanding of the relationship between Christians and Muslims. For my part, I continue to accompany those beloved people in prayer, so that they remain faithful to their commitments. To the maternal intercession of Mary, venerated in so many and ancient Lebanese shrines, I entrust the fruits of this pastoral visit, as well as the good intentions and the just aspirations of the entire Middle East.


  • Arkenaten

    The post appears more concerned with Catholic Fellowship than a call for non-violence (though I admit, I did not follow the link)
    I honestly cannot see two such diametrically opposed beliefs ever finding a middle ground, especially where the ultimate goal of each faith is for mankind to follow either Jesus (as a Divinity) or Mohammed(as a Prophet).
    The faiths do not even recognise the same God.
    I liken Religion to Football Hooliganism: ostensibly, everyone is there to watch the game, but it wont take much, maybe an insult of a particular player, to start a riot.
    Christianity and Islam claim they are all about Peace, yet a large part of each religion is/has been war.
    It is so sad. Truly.
    Sadder still, is that while each group knows where the line in the sand is and woe betide the other to cross it, yet neither is prepared to identify the line of compromise, as this will ultimately compromise their faith. Thus, the situation is untenable.
    I truly believe if the Pope – or any religious leader – knew where this line was there would be peace in an instant.
    “When the Power of Love overcomes the Love of Power, the world will know Peace.” Hendrix.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I’ve gotten several comments from other venues expressing a sense of hopelessness about anything like what the Holy Father is calling for ever developing. I, however, have lived long enough to see the intractable Cold War just go away with a swoosh; also, the Apartheid that has caused you such sorrow and racial segregation in this country. People of faith who would not bend their knee to Caesar played a decisive part in each of these situations.

      All things are possible in God.

      • Arkenaten

        I appreciate what you are saying, Rebecca, but the examples you use were political ideologies, not religious (although the NGK Church in SA bent religious doctrine to fit political ideals).
        Religions have generally not found true harmony, the more dominant (violent) usually subsumes the other.
        Early Christianity was capable of flexibility by absorbing Pagan festivals and making them their own.
        It is interesting you should use Caesar as an example here, as I have mentioned before, what the Roman Empire was unable to achieve from a military perspective, The Holy Roman Empire did (for the most part) achieve using religion, thanks to the likes of Constantine and Theodosius – even if they used the sword as well. Irony? Maybe.

        But the question remains: where is this line of compromise?

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          I think that the examples I gave are in part a reflection of how Christians can and do act out their faith in daily life. Another would be the way that England was able to end slavery without war through the efforts of committed Christians.
          As to the ability of various religions to co-exist, there are many examples in the world today of them doing just that. America itself is an experiment in peaceful co-existence between religions. Perhaps that is why I am so optimistic. The thing I hope for is part of my daily life.
          As I said earlier, all things are possible in God. One of the many benefits I have found as a result of my relationship with Jesus and of following Him as best I can is that absolute hopelessness is not a part of my life view.

          • Arkenaten

            I understand your example of Christians against slavery, yet those in the Southern States of America would have considered themselves VERY Christian and yet were prepared to got to war against their Northern compatriots over their right to continue slavery, and I have no doubt that biblical verses were quoted endlessly to justify this war.
            So, now it’s a question of “We’re more Christian than you….and we’ve got a bigger stick. So there!”
            In ‘quieter’ times when the ‘common enemy’ is not Islam and you are all Americans then it’ll be time for the Christian Fundamentalists and to bash the Catholics, and the Creationist to lambaste the Evolutionists, and everyone to bash the Mormons & Jehovah’s.
            And when the economy falls apart someone in the USA will find another reason to go to war.
            “Hot dang, can’t we find some of them pesky weapons of mass destruction again?”
            “George W, y’not President no more, now hush up and drink your Bud.”
            “But God spoke to me in a dream…..I promise.”
            Shakes head……

            • Rebecca Hamilton

              Douglas, you’ve got too many things going here to reply to. I do have a question I’ve been wondering about though. If it’s not too intrusive, can you tell me how old you are?

          • Arkenaten

            Sorry, missed this. 54.

          • Arkenaten

            The point I am trying to illustrate here is simply this:
            If you(as Christians) are trying to peacefully coexist with Muslims, say, what do you each hope to gain in the end, when the ultimate goal of each faith is to convert the other?
            (And we can forget all the other religions for now)
            At some point a temporary stalemate should be reached. But it last simply because, as I have been reminded, you are compelled by your god to convert the world, at the same time exposing false prophets – which Christianity believes of Mohammed. And recent events have shown what effect even a little besmirchement will have.

            So how can there be a peaceful, practical LONG TERM outcome? You tell me?
            Honestly, I am serious about wanting to know what the solution is.

          • Arkenaten

            Correction: This should read: It wont last