Pope Francis has called upon interreligious leaders to work together for peace.
Speaking today during a meeting with interreligious and ecumenical leaders at the apostolic nunciature in Nairobi on his second day of Apostolic and state visit to the country, Pope Francis said while ecumenical relationships can be demanding, they are not optional.
“…ecumenical and interreligious dialogue is not a luxury. It is not something extra or optional, but essential, something which our world, wounded by conflict and division, increasingly needs,” the Pope said.
The Holy Father noted that “not only is it essential for peace, interreligious dialogue can be a rich source of enlightenment and becomes an “important service to the common good.”
The Pope’s address also falls seven months after terrorists killed 147 students at Garissa University College in Garissa, and four months after gunmen killed 14 quarry workers in Mandera.
In 2013, 67 people were killed when terrorists attacked shoppers at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.Each of these attacks were carried out by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate operating out of the neighboring country of Somalia.
“I know that the barbarous attacks on Westgate Mall, Garissa University College and Mandera are fresh in your minds,” he said adding. “All too often, young people are being radicalized in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies.”
“How important it is that we be seen as prophets of peace, peacemakers who invite others to live in peace, harmony and mutual respect!”
The Holy Father also stressed the importance of never committing violence in the name of God, and prayed for the conversion of heart of all those who perpetrated violence in the name of religion.
“As we look to the future, let us pray that all men and women will see themselves as brothers and sisters, peacefully united in and through our differences. Let us pray for peace!”