Pope Signs Apostolic Exhortation, Appeals to Christians, Jews, Muslims to ‘Root out’ Fundamentalism

Posted on September 15, 2012


by Naharnet Newsdesk 11 hours ago

Pope Benedict XVI has appealed to Christians, Jews and Muslims alike to “root out” religious fundamentalism, as deadly unrest sweeps the Middle East over a film mocking Islam.

The pope, who arrived in Lebanon on Friday for a three-day visit, has also told the Christian minority in the Middle East not to fear for its future.

His exhortations were made public as he put his signature to recommendations emerging from a synod of bishops he convened two years ago to examine the future of the Christian minority in the region and its relations with Islam and Judaism.

The recommendations were signed during a mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Harissa, which was attended by President Michel Suleiman and a number of officials.

The focus is a document, known as “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente,” that contains a series of recommendations on how they might live better Christian lives and serve as beacons of peace.

The exhortations examine at length secularization, including its extreme forms, and violent fundamentalism.

Referring to the latter, they says that “religious fundamentalism … seeks to take power for political ends, at times using violence, over the individual conscience and over religion.”

The pope appealed “to all the religious leaders of the Middle East to endeavor, by their example and their teaching, to do everything possible to uproot this threat, which indiscriminately and fatally affects believers.”

He said political-economic uncertainties, manipulation by some and inadequate knowledge of religion among others contribute to fundamentalism, which he told reporters on his flight to Lebanon leads to the “falsification of religion.”

On Thursday, a group of Muslim scholars based in Qatar accused the pope of spreading fear of Muslims among Christians.

The International Union of Muslim Scholars accused him of “fueling sedition” by “planning to sign an apostolic exhortation that contains dangerous messages and ideas.”

It said the messages include a “warning from the Islamization of the society and spreading fear among Christians from political Islam in the region.

“It is strange that at the time the pope warns from political Islam, he himself practices large-scale political Christianity,” according to the Muslim scholars.

Coinciding with the pope’s arrival, anti-American protests over a U.S.-produced film that mocks Islam erupted across the Muslim world, with violence in Sudan, Lebanon and Yemen leaving at least three people dead and dozens wounded.

One demonstrator was killed in clashes with police after an angry crowd of Islamists set fire to a KFC restaurant in north Lebanon, a security source said.

The “apostolic exhortations” signed in Lebanon affirm Christians as an integral part of the Middle East, given their presence there since the first days of the faith.

It also backs the concept of “healthy secularism,” rejects violence and stresses the need to struggle against anything that that would reduce the region to having just one religion.

In an address before signing the document, the pope said the Church has been able to “hear the troubled cry and see the desperate faces of many men and women who experience grave human and material difficulties, who live amid powerful tensions in fear and uncertainty, who desire to follow Christ … yet often find themselves prevented from doing so.”

To them he said: “I urge you to fear not, to stand firm in truth and in purity of faith.”

“It is here and now that we are called to celebrate the victory of love over hate, forgiveness over revenge, service over domination, humility over pride and unity over division.”


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Pope Benedict: This document seeks to strengthen faith and rid us of all that hides the light of Christ.
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Pope Benedict: The Apostolic Exhortation expresses all the works that we can commit to on the earth. We encourage dialogue among all religions. The Exhortation calls for all to have strong faith.
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Pope Benedict XVI signed the Apostolic Exhortation for the Middle East at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Harisssa.
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Pope Benedict: Have courage and God bless you all.
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Pope Benedict: The church allows us to think of the present and future. Dialogue is necessary and we must now celebrate the victory of love over hate.
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Pope Benedict: I wanted the first message to call for all to appreciate all that is beautiful on this earth.
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Pope Benedict: Christians cannot forget the relationship between the cross and Resurrection because without Resurrection the cross only means death. The cross is the symbol of God’s love that knows no bounds.
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Pope Benedict: It is a coincidence that the signing of the Apostolic Exhortation will take place on Holy Cross Day.
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Pope Benedict: We can only work for achieving coexistence among Muslims and Christians in Lebanon.
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Pope Benedict XVI: I would like thank Lahham for his speech and salute the patriarch and all officials.
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Lahham: The world is in need of a strong church capable of delivering a message of faith, truth, and love for God.
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Lahham: The recognition of the Palestinian state will guarantee the success of the Synod, which will pave the way for a revolution capable of changing the face of the Arab world and pave the way for a real Arab Spring.
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Patriarch of Melkite Greek Catholic Church Gregory III Lahham during ceremony marking signing of apostolic exhortation: Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian-Arab conflict is enough to solve the majority of the problems of the Arab world.

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