Interreligious Understanding / Presentation
Rock star for peace!
Pope Francis has almost become a rock-star in some parts of the world as this picture on the T shirt shows. His openness to challenging climate change and a refusal to judge people harshly on issues like homosexuality and broken marriages breaks fresh ground.
Hatred is not to be carried in the name of God. War is not to be waged in the name of God.
Pope of non-violence
“Your Holiness, please come to India.” “Yes, next year,” Pope Francis answered softly but emphatically and with a smile. The twinkle in his eyes accentuated his joy at meeting an Indian and showed the pope’s keenness to visit a country he knows should have been on his itinerary earlier.The pontiff was meeting nearly 500 participants from all over the world at the inter-faith conference in the town of Assisi in Italy. I have been participating in these annual conferences for the past few years as a Hindu representative.The moment was special; we had assembled to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the meet of leaders and representatives of all religions convened in 1986 by Pope John Paul II. The place too was special — the scenic mountain-top Basilica of St. Francis, whose name and mission the pope has chosen for his papacy.
I could clearly see how relevant his message was for the current situation in violence-scarred Kashmir, and why Prime Ministers Narendra Modiand Nawaz Sharif needed to pay heed to it. After the ceremony was over, I went up to the pope, shook his hand reverentially, and made an appeal: “Your Holiness, please pray for India-Pakistan peace and reconciliation.”
He seemed a little taken aback. After a pause, he said forcefully, “Yes, I will!”
The pope never misses an opportunity to tell political leaders of the world what they should hear.Like St. Francis of Assisi, whom his ardent admirer, Mahatma Gandhi, described as “a great yogi in Europe”, Pope Francis has been passionately advocating inter-faith harmony and protection of the environment.
His encyclical on climate change, released before the Paris Summit, is a searing indictment of the ecological destruction in our time. This has earned him the epithets, “Green Pope” and “Poor Man’s Pope”.
The Pope’s sermon connected the timeless messages of religion with the pressing challenges before today’s world. “Believers should be artisans of peace in their prayers to God and in their actions for humanity. We turn to the leaders of nations so that they may not tire of seeking and promoting ways of peace - may they not remain deaf to God’s appeal to their conscience.” At one level Pope Francis is the head of the Catholic Church in the world, but at another level he is the moral conscience keeper of the world. Today he is one of those rare voices in the world reminding us that we have to change this world.
His words — peace alone, and not war, is holy — were clearly addressed to the misguided jihadists of ISIS and other terrorist organisations. “The name of God cannot be used to justify violence.”