Saturday, 20 December 2014

Kenyan Christian leaders ask Muslims "for a deliberate and concerted effort" to stop the violence of the Shabaab

"We want to see a deliberate and concerted effort by our Muslim brothers and sisters. They (Muslim leaders) must move merely beyond condemning the spate of attacks targeting non-Muslims to initiating practical steps to the sympathizers of terror and helping us to build bridges between faiths and communities", say the Christian leaders of Kenya in a joint statement entitled "The State of The Nation".
            According to CISA and CANAA Catholic agencies, the statement submitted to the press on December 10, was signed by Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist religious leaders and African Inland Church.
            Christian leaders claim to have "reflected deeply with heavy hearts" on various issues of national concern after the recent attacks carried out by Al Shabaab Somali fundamentalists. "The attacks, which initially targeted Christian places of worship in Nairobi, Garissa and Mombasa, are now directly targeting innocent Christians in public transport and their places of work" said the statement, referring to the recent massacre of 22 November and 2 December in Mandera County (north-eastern Kenya), in which more than 60 people were killed on the basis of their religious affiliation (see Fides 24 November and 2 December 2014).
            "This year alone, over 20 attacks have been recorded in the country leaving behind a trail of death and destruction where over 200 Kenyans have lost their lives" the leaders recalled.
            "The reality of this situation regrettably leads us to the conclusion that these attacks, perpetuated by people claiming to be Al Shabaab, are taking a religious angle", say the religious leaders who call upon all Kenyans "to avoid statements that further incite and divide the Country along religious lines". 
            The Church leaders concluded by also urging Kenyan politicians to desist from politicizing issues of national security, insisting that debates on insecurity be characterized with sobriety, realism and the fostering of national unity. (Source: Agenzia Fides 12/12/2014)

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Pope Speaks

Pope Francis sends message of hope to Christians being 'driven from Mideast'
And Urges Muslim leaders to condemn terrorism carried out in the name of Islam
On December 8th, Pope Francis said Christians are being “driven from the Middle East,” in a message to Iraqi Christians forced to flee by Islamic State group jihadists.
“I think of the wounds, of the pain of women with their children, the elderly and the displaced, the wounds of those who are victims of every type of violence,” Francis said according to a transcript. 

Thousands of Christians took refuge in Arbil after IS jihadists in June overran Mosul, Iraq's second city, and forced hundreds of thousands of them, as well as members of the Yazidi community, to flee their homes.
“Due to an extremist and fundamentalist group, entire communities, especially, but not only, Christians and Yazidi, have suffered and continue to suffer, inhuman violence because of their religious and ethnic identity,” the pope said.
“Christians and Yazidi have been forced out of their homes; they have had to abandon everything to save their lives, but they have not denied their faith.
“Even holy buildings, monuments, religious symbols and cultural heritage have been affected by the violence, almost as if to cancel every trace, every memory of the other.”

After the Pontiff visited Turkey, he urged Muslim leaders worldwide to “clearly” condemn terrorism carried out in the name of Islam, and called for an end to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christian, Muslim leaders vow to 'walk hand in hand' to promote peace      
            Holding the third Christian-Muslim Summit in Rome between December 2 and 4, the leaders said that while more and more women are involved in high-level dialogues, there is still much to be done, including recognizing that "women play a key role in peacebuilding." The Catholic, Sunni and Shiite delegations at the summit each included one woman scholar; the Anglican delegation included two women clergy and two female scholars.
            "Enough is enough. We are brothers in Abraham, we speak different languages, we live in different parts of the world," but Christianity and Islam both teach that "humanity is one family" and religious leaders have an obligation to resist attempts to divide brothers and sisters with violence, said Episcopal Bishop John Bryson Chane of Washington.
            Bishop Chane spoke December 4 at the final, public session of the summit, which concluded with a "call to action" that also included pledges: to travel together to areas affected by severe violence as a sign to their followers that Christianity and Islam are religions of peace; to focus more attention on equipping young people to live with respect for other faiths; and to promote collaboration among Catholic, Anglican and Muslim aid agencies.
            Shahrzad Houshmand, an Iranian member of the Shiite delegation and professor of Islamic studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, said she was listened to and her ideas were welcomed by the group. "In such a troubled world, what we accomplished in these three days was not small," Houshmand said.
            Cardinal Tauran, who also participated in the first summit in Washington in 2010 and the second in Beirut in 2012, said Catholic-Muslim dialogue "is not so easy today," especially when such ferocious violence is enflaming Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. "For many years, we have practiced dialogue face to face," the cardinal said. "Now we have to walk hand in hand."
            Pope Francis met the summit participants December 3 and told them personal visits "make our brotherhood stronger. I thank you for your work, for what you do to help us understand each other better and, especially, for what you do for peace. Dialogue: this is the path to peace."
            The declaration was signed by Bishop Chane, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, and Ayatollah Seyyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad of Iran.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Pope Francis joins religious leaders of different faiths, in fight against modern slavery

Pope Francis joins religious leaders of different faiths, in fight against modern slavery

It's estimated that over 36 million people around the globe, live under some type of slavery, most commonly, forced prostitution or forced labor. Religious leaders of different faiths came together in the Vatican on December 2, to join forces and stop it. 
"We hereby declare on behalf of each and every one of our faiths, that modern slavery, be it human trafficking, forced labor, prostitution or the sale of organs, is a crime against humanity.” 
REV. JUSTIN WELBY, Archbishop of Canterbury
"At a time when faiths are seen wrongly as a cause of conflict it is a sign of real hope that today global faith leaders have together committed themselves publicly to the battle to end modern slavery.” 
"When we have more clarity in our mind we will have compassion not only for the victims, but for the traffickers themselves. Our compassion can help transform them into friends and allies for our cause.” 
"As a Jew, I join all of you, raising my voice with all my strength, so that every kind of slavery is condemned in every way and dealt with, with severe penalties.” 

Among those in attendance was an Indian woman named Mata Amritanandamayi, who in Hinduism, is considered to be holy living person.  There was also a Muslim representative of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, which is the most
important Islamic university. The leader of the Orthodox Church, Bartholomew, sent a video message as a sign of support. Two victims who survived human trafficking read a statement, which was later signed by religious leaders. 
The joint meeting was launched by the Global Freedom Network. It came about after the primate of the Anglican Church, Justin Welby shared the idea with Pope Francis in March 2014. 

Friday, 5 December 2014

The Pope Speaks

Fundamentalism must be counteracted with solidarity and respect for freedom

Nov 28, 2014

After meeting the Turkish President Erdogan, the Pope delivered a speech where he said that Islamophobia is growing in the world. He also regretted that Muslims are seen as terrorists and condemned the violence in the Middle East.

In his address, the Pope denounced the ongoing wars in the region and called for a lasting peace. He stressed that all citizens must enjoy equal rights.

"It is essential that all citizens – Muslim, Jewish and Christian – enjoy, both in the provision and practice of the law, the same rights and respect the same duties. They will then find it easier to see each other as brothers and sisters who are in the same path, seeking always to reject misunderstandings while promoting cooperation and concord.”
The Pope explained that interreligious dialogue and solidarity can overcome fundamentalism and terrorism.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Pope Speaks

We must condemn violence based on religious justification

Nov 28, 2014
The Pope held a meeting with Mehmet Gormez, the president of the Department for Religious Affairs of Turkey. It is the highest Islamic religious authority in the country.
After meeting in private, Pope Francis delivered an address in which he denounced the violence of the Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq as well as its intent in eradicating Christianity.

"Particular concern arises from the fact that, owing mainly to an extremist and fundamentalist group, entire communities, especially – though not exclusively – Christians and Yazidis, have suffered and continue to suffer barbaric violence simply because of their ethnic and religious identity. This violence has also brought damage to sacred buildings, monuments, religious symbols and cultural patrimony, as if trying to erase every trace, every memory of the other.”
The Pope stressed the necessary cooperation among religious leaders. He said that he sends a message that "mutual respect and friendship” are possible, especially in these difficult times. 
"As religious leaders, we are obliged to denounce all violations against human dignity and human rights. Human life, a gift of God the Creator, possesses a sacred character. As such, any violence which seeks religious justification warrants the strongest condemnation because the Omnipotent is the God of life and peace.”
However, the Pope highlighted the need to work together in finding solutions. He asked for governments and religious leaders to put an end to the violence.
"I wish to express my appreciation for everything that the Turkish people, Muslims and Christians alike, are doing to help the hundreds of thousands of people who are fleeing their countries due to conflicts. This is a clear example of how we can work together to serve others, an example to be encouraged and maintained.”