Pope and Grand Imam Jointly Condemn Terrorism in ‘Name of God’

Security forces help civilians flee the scene as cars burn behind, at a hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019. Terrorists attacked an upscale hotel complex in Kenya's capital Tuesday, sending people fleeing in panic as explosions and heavy gunfire reverberated through the neighborhood. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
AP Photo/Ben Curtis
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

Pope Francis and the Grand Imam Ahmed a-Tayyeb signed a joint declaration Monday, condemning “acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression” carried out in God’s name.

We “resolutely declare that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood,” the document reads. These tragic realities are the consequence of a deviation from religious teachings.”

“We thus call upon all concerned to stop using religions to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism, and to refrain from using the name of God to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression,” the two leaders declared.

“God, the Almighty, has no need to be defended by anyone and does not want His name to be used to terrorize people,” they said.

The nearly 3,000-word text, titled “Declaration on Human Fraternity for world peace and living together,” was signed in Abu Dhabi Monday by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University in Cairo during a global conference on the same topic.

The document asserts the importance of religious faith for human existence, as well as the “transcendental value” of human life from conception until natural death.

“In the name of God and of everything stated thus far; Al-Azhar al-Sharif and the Muslims of the East and West, together with the Catholic Church and the Catholics of the East and West, declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard,” the text declares.

The leaders call upon “intellectuals, philosophers, religious figures, artists, media professionals and men and women of culture” to rediscover and promote “the values of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human fraternity and coexistence in order to confirm the importance of these values as anchors of salvation for all.”

This declaration also highlights a “a distancing from religious values” as one of the most important causes of the crises of the modern world, giving way to “materialistic philosophies that deify the human person and introduce worldly and material values in place of supreme and transcendental principles.”

“The first and most important aim of religions is to believe in God, to honour Him and to invite all men and women to believe that this universe depends on a God who governs it,” it states. “He is the Creator who has formed us with His divine wisdom and has granted us the gift of life to protect it.”

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