At this point I have to admit that I am not catholic, and I am by no measure a biblical scholar. The motivation for this blog stems from a firm belief that no one should walk alone. Pope Francis’ plea for our prayers appealed to me as a person of faith regardless of my religious orientation.
Belief in God or a greater good provides many people a sense of purpose and hope in the face of the otherwise mundane worries and iniquities of everyday live. With religiously motivated tensions on the rise around the world, spirituality is increasingly seen in a negative light. As Samuel Huntington criticized in his well-known book, “The Clash of Civilizations,” religious fervor and the zeal of Christian and Islamic missionaries pursuing their singular viewpoints threaten to unleash political upheaval, social unrest and violence — hardly an uplifting thought for the spiritually minded. Unfortunately, religious leaders have done little to mitigate these developments in the recent past.
Pope Francis seems to depart from the dogmatic views of his predecessor. Instead, the new pope’s messaging carries a moderate and conciliatory tone. His speech and prayers to the Egyptian people are case in point. In unmistakeable language, the Pope condemns violence as un-christian:
“The word of the Gospel does not authorize the use of force to spread the faith. It is just the opposite: the true strength of the Christian is the power of truth and love, which leads to the renunciation of all violence. Faith and violence are incompatible.”
These are welcome words when we are too often bombarded with images of burning mosques and churches, when the burning of religious symbols and inciting violence toward each other is condoned by some as acceptable or even expected behavior.
I pray that the message of Pope Francis is heard far and wide and that more religious leaders of different creeds speak and act responsibly to promote peaceful co-existence. Only then can we truly have faith that a purposeful and hopeful life will endure.