By: SAMUEL KARANJA
Pope Francis has stressed the need for interreligious harmony, saying it is for the common good of all.
He especially called for unity between Muslims and Christians, citing various terrorist attacks that were claimed by Al-Shabaab.
“In democratic and pluralistic societies like Kenya, cooperation between religious leaders and communities becomes an important service to the common good,” the Pope said Thursday.
The Head of the Roman Catholic Church, however, admitted that it was not easy to bridge the rift between religions but insisted that faiths must have a meeting point “if the wounded world is to live in harmony”.
“To be honest, this relationship is challenging. It makes demands of us. Yet ecumenical and interreligious dialogue is not a luxury. It is not something extra or optional but essential; something which our world, wounded by conflict and division, increasingly needs,” the Pontiff said.
“In this light, and in an increasingly interdependent world, we see more clearly the need for interreligious understanding, friendship and collaboration in defending the God-given dignity of individuals and peoples, and their right to live in freedom and happiness.”
Pope Francis mentioned some terrorist attacks in Kenya.
“I know that the barbarous attacks on Westgate Mall, Garissa University College and Mandera are fresh in your minds,” he said.
“By: upholding respect for human dignity and rights, religions play an essential role in forming conscience, instilling in the young the profound spiritual values of our respective traditions and training good citizens capable of infusing civil society with honesty, integrity and a world view which values the human person over power and material gain.”
He spoke during a meeting with various religious leaders at the Apostolic Nunciature, Nairobi.
The Pope said nobody should injure another in the name of God.
“The God we seek to serve is a God of peace. His holy name must never be used to justify hatred and violence,” Pope Francis said.
The Pope decried that the young were the preferred candidates for extremist groups.
“Young people are being radicalised in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the fabric of our societies. How important it is that we be seen as prophets of peace,” he added.
He prayed for those being used to cause terror to change their hearts and for peace on their families and communities.
Anglican Church of Kenya head Eliud Wabukala said Pope Francis’ presence encouraged Christians in their journey of faith.
“We pray that your visit will encourage Christians in all churches in Africa to continue upholding the gospel of Jesus Christ while influencing society constructively,” Archbishop Wabukala said.
He said Africa was at a spiritual crossroads because of the many nominal Christians and “ideological colonialism” of secularism.
“It is my prayer that our churches will work together in proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and risen, to kindle the hearts and minds of believers anew,” he said.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION