Pope denounces terrorism, calls for freer access to holy places
May 26, 2014
In a courtesy visit to President Shimon Peres of Israel, Pope Francis called for freer access to Jerusalem’s holy places, to which Palestinian Christians say at times they have been denied access.
“The holy places are not monuments or museums for tourists, but places where communities of believers daily express their faith and culture, and carry out their works of charity,” the Pope said. “How good it is when pilgrims and residents enjoy free access to the holy places and can freely take part in religious celebrations.”
“Mr. President, you are known as a man of peace and a peacemaker,” Pope Francis said as he turned to Israeli-Palestinian relations. “I appreciate and admire the approach you have taken.”
“Peacemaking demands first and foremost respect for the dignity and freedom of every human person, which Jews, Christians and Muslims alike believe to be created by God and destined to eternal life,” the Pope continued. “This shared conviction enables us resolutely to pursue peaceful solutions to every controversy and conflict. Here I renew my plea that all parties avoid initiatives and actions which contradict their stated determination to reach a true agreement and that they tirelessly work for peace, with decisiveness and tenacity.”
The Pope added:
There is likewise need for a firm rejection of all that is opposed to the cultivation of peace and respectful relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims. We think, for example, of recourse to violence and terrorism, all forms of discrimination on the basis of race or religion, attempts to impose one’s own point of view at the expense of the rights of others, anti-Semitism in all its possible expressions, and signs of intolerance directed against individuals or places of worship, be they Jewish, Christian or Muslim.
Pope Francis also called the nation’s Christian communities “an integral part of society … Christians wish, as such, to contribute to the common good and the growth of peace; they wish to do so as full-fledged citizens who reject extremism in all its forms and are committed to fostering reconciliation and harmony.”
“The presence of these communities and respect for their rights – as for the rights of all other religious groups and all minorities – are the guarantee of a healthy pluralism and proof of the vitality of democratic values as they are authentically embodied in the daily life and workings of the State,” he said.
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