Pope expresses shame for Christian violence in history

Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:15pm EDT
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By Philip Pullella

ASSISI, Italy (Reuters) - Pope Benedict, leading a global inter-religious meeting, acknowledged Thursday "with great shame" that Christianity had used force in its long history as he joined other religious leaders in condemning violence and terrorism in God's name.

Benedict spoke as he hosted some 300 religious leaders from around the world - including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Taoists, Shintoists and Buddhists - in an inter-faith prayer gathering for peace in the city of St Francis, a universally recognized symbol of peace.

The day-long event was called to commemorate the 25th anniversary of an historic initiative in favor of peace hosted here by the late Pope John Paul in 1986.

Each leader, most wearing traditional religious garb, solemnly pledged to promote dialogue and understanding among their own communities, with other religions, and to work incessantly against violence.

"Violence never again! War never again! Terrorism never again! In the name of God, may every religion bring upon Earth justice and peace, forgiveness and life, love," the pope said in his public commitment at the end of the day.

In his major address at the start of the gathering the pope asked forgiveness for his own church's use of violence in the past.

"As a Christian I want to say at this point: yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith," he said in his address to the delegations in an Assisi basilica.

"We acknowledge it with great shame. But it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the Christian faith, one that evidently contradicts its true nature," he said.   Continued...

<p>Pope Benedict XVI (R) greets Wande Abimbola (L) at Santa Maria degli Angeli Basilica in Assisi October 27, 2011. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito</p>