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Religions must cooperate to remind humanity that God exists says pope

VATICAN CITY (CNS): “The Catholic Church knows the importance of promoting friendship and respect among men and women of different religious traditions,” Pope Francis said during a March 20 meeting with the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Jain delegations that had come to the Vatican for his inauguration. 

He repeated the entire phrase twice to give it emphasis. 


He stressed that for the good of all people, the care of the poor and the future of the earth, religions must cooperate in reminding modern men and women that God exists and has a plan for their lives and their behaviour. 


He added that the Catholic Church “is equally aware of the responsibility that all have for this world, for creation—which we must love and protect—and we can do much good for those who are poor, weak and suffering, to favour justice, to promote reconciliation, to build peace.” 


The pope added that more than anything, “We must keep alive in the world the thirst for the absolute. We must never allow a one-dimensional vision of the human person to prevail—a vision that reduces the person to what he produces and consumes.”


He went on to note, “This is one of the most dangerous, insidious things of our age.” 


Pope Francis lamented that too much violence has resulted from “the attempt to eliminate God or the divine” from people’s personal and social lives and stressed that looking to the transcendent and to seek God is part of being fully human, which continues to exist in the human heart. 


The pope told the religious leaders that he and they have an obligation to be close to people who do not belong to a faith community, but who are “searching for the truth, goodness and beauty.” 


He said, “[They] are our precious allies in the commitment to defending human dignity in building peaceful coexistence among peoples and in safeguarding creation.” 


At the beginning of the audience, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, from Constantinople, congratulated the pope on his election and emphasised the importance of the Catholic Church’s involvement in the search for Christian unity as a sign of the credibility of the gospel message and a way of strengthening what good Christians can do in the world. 


“We have an obligation to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, cure the sick and, more in general, to care for those in need,” the patriarch said, acknowledging how much Pope Francis did as archbishop of Buenos Aires. 


He said Pope Francis’ choice of a simple papal style is a sign of his focus “on the essential, which fills with joy the hearts” of Catholics and non-Catholics alike, because it demonstrates the priority of justice and mercy in Christian teaching. 


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