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On his second day in Kazakhstan, Pope Francis participated in Nur-Sultan at the seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions. The event takes place every three years in the Kazakh capital and this time is dedicated to the role of the leaders of the various confessions in the spiritual and social development of humanity in the post-pandemic period. The Pontiff spoke of four “global challenges”: the pandemic, peace, hospitality and climate change. Then he appealed to “never justify violence”, because “God leads to peace, never to war”. He also warned: “May the sacred not be the prop of power”. And again: “As long as inequalities and injustices continue to rage, viruses worse than Covid will not be able to cease: those of hatred, violence, terrorism”.
The Pope’s intervention
Bergoglio’s speech opened the plenary session. “Faced with the mystery of the infinite that dominates and attracts us, religions remind us that we are creatures: we are not omnipotent, but women and men on the way to the same celestial goal. The creaturality we share thus establishes a communion, a real fraternity. We grow only with others and thanks to others “, the Pope said. Then he exhorted the leaders:” The world expects from us the example of awake souls and clear minds, it awaits authentic religiosity. The time has come. to wake up from that fundamentalism that pollutes and corrodes every creed, the time to make the heart clear and compassionate “. “An essential condition for truly human and integral development is religious freedom, a fundamental, primary and inalienable right”, he added.
“Covid has put us all on the same level”
Regarding Covid, the Pontiff said: “He put us all on the same level. We all felt fragile, all in need of assistance; none fully autonomous, none completely self-sufficient. Now, however, we cannot squander the need for solidarity that we felt by going on as if nothing had happened, without letting ourselves be challenged by the need to face together the urgencies that concern everyone. “Then Bergoglio added:” As long as they continue to rage. disparities and injustices, viruses worse than Covid will not be able to cease: those of hatred, violence, terrorism “. And again:” It is precisely poverty that allows the spread of epidemics and other great evils that thrive on the lands of discomfort and inequalities. The greatest risk factor of our times remains poverty “.
“We never condone violence”
In his speech, Francis stressed that “a purification from evil is necessary for each and every one”. “Let us therefore purify ourselves of the presumption of feeling righteous and of having nothing to learn from others; let us free ourselves from those reductive and ruinous conceptions that offend the name of God through rigidity, extremism and fundamentalism, and profane it through hatred, fanaticism and terrorism, also disfiguring the image of man “, the Pope exhorted.” We never justify violence “, he added. And again: “We do not allow the sacred to be exploited by what is profane. May the sacred not be the prop of power and power should not be props of sacredness! Mindful of the horrors and errors of the past, let us join forces so that the Almighty never again becomes hostage to the will of human power ”.
The four “global challenges” cited by the Pope
During his speech, Bergoglio spoke of four “global challenges”. The first is “the pandemic, between vulnerability and care”. The second is the “challenge of peace”. “God is peace and always leads to peace, never to war. Let us therefore commit ourselves, even more, to promoting and strengthening the need for conflicts to be resolved not with the inconclusive reasons of force, with weapons and threats, but with the only means blessed by Heaven and worthy of man: meeting, dialogue, patient negotiations “, he said. Then there is” a third challenge, that of fraternal welcome “, given that” today the effort is great to accept the human being “.” Let us rediscover the art of hospitality, of welcome, of compassion “, Francis exhorted. Then he added: “A final global challenge challenges us: the custody of our common home. In the face of climatic upheavals it must be protected, so that it is not subjected to the logic of gain, but preserved for future generations, to the praise of the Creator”.