“Violence is a characteristic feature of our world”

Pope Benedict calls for peace at interfaith gathering in Assisi

News.va has the full text of Pope Benedict’s remarks to today’s assembly of religious leaders in Assisi. The gathering, which marks the 25th anniversary of the Day for Prayer for Peace that Pope John Paul II held there in 1986, was expected to bring together some 300 representatives of major world religions, as well as non-believers.

From the Pope’s address:

Even if there is no threat of a great war hanging over us at present, nevertheless the world is unfortunately full of discord. It is not only that sporadic wars are continually being fought – violence as such is potentially ever present and it is a characteristic feature of our world. Freedom is a great good. But the world of freedom has proved to be largely directionless, and not a few have misinterpreted freedom as somehow including freedom for violence. Discord has taken on new and frightening guises, and the struggle for freedom must engage us all in a new way. …

If one basic type of violence today is religiously motivated and thus confronts religions with the question as to their true nature and obliges all of us to undergo purification, a second complex type of violence is motivated in precisely the opposite way: as a result of God’s absence, his denial and the loss of humanity which goes hand in hand with it. The enemies of religion – as we said earlier – see in religion one of the principal sources of violence in the history of humanity and thus they demand that it disappear. But the denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds, which only becomes possible when man no longer recognizes any criterion or any judge above himself, now having only himself to take as a criterion. The horrors of the concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence. …

The absence of God leads to the decline of man and of humanity. But where is God? Do we know him, and can we show him anew to humanity, in order to build true peace?

The Holy Father’s complete address can be read here.


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About Catherine Harmon 573 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.