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Amid Russia’s warfare, pope says religion can’t justify such evil

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan (AP) — Pope Francis advised the Russian Orthodox hierarchy and different religion leaders Wednesday that faith must not ever be used to justify the “evil” of warfare and that God must not ever “be held hostage to the human thirst for energy.”

Towards the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Francis opened an interfaith convention within the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan by difficult delegations to unite in condemning warfare. He cited a Kazakh poet in warning that “he who permits evil and doesn’t oppose it can’t be thought to be a real believer. At finest he’s a half-hearted believer.”

Within the viewers of the 80 imams, patriarchs, rabbis and muftis was Metropolitan Anthony, accountable for international relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, which has firmly backed Russia’s invasion. His boss, Patriarch Kirill, was speculated to have participated within the congress however canceled final month.

Kirill has justified Russia’s invasion on religious and ideological grounds, calling it a “metaphysical” battle with the West. He has blessed Russian troopers going into warfare and invoked the concept Russians and Ukrainians are one individuals.

Francis didn’t point out Russia or Ukraine in his remarks, which alongside these of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev opened the gathering of Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Taoist and different religion teams aimed toward selling interreligious dialogue and fraternity as a drive for peace on the earth.

However talking from Russia’s southern neighbor because the seven-month warfare rages on, Francis advised the religion leaders that they themselves wanted to take the lead in selling a tradition of peace, saying it was hypocritical to count on that non-believers would promote peace if spiritual leaders don’t.

“If the creator, to whom we have now devoted our lives, is the creator of human life, how can we who name ourselves believers consent to the destruction of that life?” he requested. “Conscious of the wrongs and errors of the previous, allow us to unite our efforts to make sure that the Almighty won’t ever once more be held hostage to the human thirst for energy.”

Francis then laid down a problem to all these within the room to commit themselves to resolving disputes by means of dialogue and negotiation, not with recourse to arms.

“Might we by no means justify violence. Might we by no means enable the sacred to be exploited by the profane. The sacred must not ever be a prop for energy, nor energy a prop for the sacred!”

Along with the Russian Orthodox delegation, the spiritual leaders included Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the seat of Sunni studying in Cairo, who warmly greeted Francis with a kiss on the cheek when the pope arrived in a wheelchair.

Francis and al-Tayeb signed a joint Christian-Muslim doc selling human fraternity as a drive for peace in 2019 — a doc that Tokayev cited in his personal speech opening the congress. Al-Tayeb was later given a particular award by the Kazakh organizers for his interfaith work.

Earlier than Kirill bowed out, there had been hypothesis that Francis might meet with Kirill on the sidelines of the congress after each confirmed their presence earlier this 12 months. The 2 met for the primary time in 2016 in Cuba — the first-ever assembly of a pope and Russian patriarch — and spoke by videoconference within the early weeks of the warfare.

Francis afterward publicly criticized Kirill’s justification of Ukraine’s invasion and warned that he mustn’t turn out to be “Putin’s altar boy.”

Whereas Francis wouldn’t meet with Kirill whereas in Kazakhstan, he was attributable to meet on the sidelines of the convention with Anthony, al-Tayeb, the top of Russia’s spiritual council of Muslims, Mufti Sheikh Ravil Gaynutdin, in addition to different Orthodox, Jewish, Lutheran and Muslim leaders.

One other customer in Kazakhstan on Wednesday was apparently not on Francis’ agenda: Chinese language President Xi Jinping was heading to Nur-Sultan on his first state go to outdoors China because the coronavirus pandemic. Neither Vatican nor Kazakh officers anticipated Xi would meet with the pope throughout his temporary go to to a key financial and political ally within the area.


Related Press faith protection receives assist by means of the AP’s collaboration with The Dialog US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely accountable for this content material.


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