Pope insists on religious tolerance
In the midst of continuing violence provoked by satirical cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, Pope Benedict XVI criticised those who use the wounded feelings of their faithful to promote violence.
"Religions and their symbols must be respected," the Holy Father said yesterday, but "intolerance and violence never can be justified as a response to the offense, since they are not responses compatible with the sacred principles of religion."
Catholic News Service reports that Benedict made his comments during an audience to welcome Ali Achour as the new ambassador of Morocco to the Vatican.
While no violence has been reported in Morocco, news agencies said at least 15 Christians were killed and more than a dozen Christian churches burned Feb. 18 in Maiduguri, Nigeria, after an anti-cartoon demonstration turned violent. Among those killed was Fr Michael Gajere, a Nigerian priest. A protest in Libya on Friday claimed the lives of at least 11 people.
Pope Benedict told the Moroccan ambassador that while no one has the right to purposefully denigrate the faith of another, "one cannot but deplore the actions of those who deliberately profit from the offense of religious sentiments in order to foment violent actions."
"For believers and for all people of good will, the only path that leads to peace and fraternity is that of respect for the convictions and religious practices of the other," the pope said.
Pope Benedict praised the Moroccan government for its efforts to solidify democracy based on the shared values of "the transcendent dignity of the human person, respect for human rights and the 'common good' as the aim and criteria for the regulation of political life."
Achour told the pope his country would continue its efforts to promote and host dialogues between religions and cultures, to defend human rights and to support negotiations as the best way to resolve political disputes.
"Morocco condemns extremism and terrorism, which are against the principles and values of Islam," he said.
The vast majority of Morocco's 31 million inhabitants are Muslim; the Catholic community numbers about 24,000 people, according to Vatican statistics.
Pope says religions must be respected, but cannot promote violence (Catholic News Service 20/2/06)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
ATo the Ambassador of Morocco to the Holy See (20/2/06 - French only)
Catholic Church in Morocco (catholic-hierarchy.org)
Presentation of Pontifical Yearbook 2006 (Vatican Information Service 18/2/06)
The mercy of God heals human beings (Vatican Information Service 19/2/06)
Allow everyone free expression of their religion (Vatican Information Service 20/2/06)
Peace requires respect for religious beliefs (Vatican Information Service 20/2/06)
Pope expected to name new cardinals soon (Reuters 20/2/06)
Papal encyclical "a powerful message of love" (AsiaNews.it 20/2/06)
Pope: respect for religions, but insults do not justify violence (AsiaNews.it 20/2/06)
Lack of justice, peace shows sin still paralyzes people, pope says (Catholic News Service 20/2/06)
Union with Christ, commitment to sacraments and truth most important to ministry of permanent deacons, says Pope (Catholic News Agency 20/2/06)
Paralyzed by sin, man needs the mercy of God, says Pope (Catholic News Agency 20/2/06)
Religious respect the only road to peace, fraternity for peoples of faith and good will, Pope tells Moroccan diplomat (Catholic News Agency 20/2/06)
Sin paralyzes mankind, Pope tells audience (Catholic World News 20/2/06)
Pope laments cartoons, condemns violent response (Catholic World News 20/2/06)
Openness to God's Love Can Heal Humanity, Says Pope (Zenit 19/2/06)
Benedict XVI Appeals for Prayers for Mudslide Victims (Zenit 19/2/06)
Cures of Christ (Zenit 19/2/06)
Pope's Jan. 12 Address to Neocatechumenal Way (Zenit 19/2/06)
21 Feb 2006