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Cardinals, Pope join to condemn religious violence

February 21, 2014

The cardinals meeting in a consistory with Pope Francis released a statement on February 21 expressing concern about violations of religious freedom and denouncing all violence committed in the name of religious faith. They observed that religious motives—particularly pitting Muslims against Christians—are frequently attributed to conflicts that are in reality “mainly ethnic, political or economic nature.”

In their statement, the College of Cardinals voiced special concern about the current violence in South Sudan, Nigeria, Ukraine, Syria, and the Central African Republic.

The full statement, released by the Vatican press office, read:

During the extraordinary Consistory, the Holy Father and the College of Cardinals raised a special prayer to the Lord for the many Christians who, in various parts of the world, are increasingly frequently victims of acts of intolerance or persecution. To those who suffer for the Gospel, the Holy Father and the Cardinals wish to renew their assurance of their constant prayers, urging them to stand firm in their faith and to forgive their persecutors from their hearts, in imitation of Jesus Christ.

Equally, the thoughts of the Pope and the Cardinals turned to those nations which in this period are riven by internal conflicts, or by serious tensions which have consequences for civil co-existence, such as South Sudan or Nigeria, in a climate of growing indifference. At this time there is particular apprehension with regard to the evolution of the difficult situation in Ukraine, where it is hoped that all violence will cease immediately and that harmony and peace will be re-established.

Similarly, a great cause for concern is the continuing conflict in Syria, where it appears that the parties are still far from finding a lasting and peaceful solution, as well as the situation in the Central African Republic, which assumes greater proportions day by day. Initiatives on the part of the international community to promote peace and internal reconciliation, to guarantee the restoration of security and the rule of law, and to allow the indispensable access of humanitarian aid, are becoming increasingly urgent.

Unfortunately, it is evident that many of the current conflicts are described as being of a religious nature, not infrequently surreptitiously placing Christians and Muslims in opposition, whereas in reality these conflicts have origins of a mainly ethnic, political or economic nature.

The Catholic Church, on her part, in condemning every form of violence perpetrated in the name of religious belief, will not cease in her commitment to peace and reconciliation, through interreligious dialogue and the many charitable works which provide daily assistance and comfort to the suffering throughout the world.


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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Leopardi - Feb. 22, 2014 10:40 AM ET USA

    Where are the "outcries" from Muslim leaders against the subversion of religion in the cause of political and ethnic goals? The relative silence of these leaders makes one wonder about underlying religious precepts involved. "By their fruits we shall know them"

  • Posted by: Defender - Feb. 21, 2014 10:07 PM ET USA

    And in most of the countries listed, Muslims are the problem having started the conflict - not to mention the "religious cleansing" in Syria and the kidnapping of nuns.