Pope Francis has described Muslims and Christians as brothers and sisters who should unite against violence exercised in the name of religion and to “say no to hatred.”
“Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters,” the Pope said during a visit to a Mosque in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, where inter-religious violence has killed thousands of people since 2013.
“We are well aware that the recent events and acts of violence which have shaken your country were not grounded in proper religious motives,” Francis said.
He called on Christians, Muslims and followers of African Traditional Religions to work “for an end to every act which, from whatever side, disfigures the face of God and whose ultimate aim is to defend particular interests by any and all means”.
“Together, we must say no to hatred, to revenge and to violence, particularly, that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself,” the pope said.
On Sunday, the pontiff had met with representatives of evangelical communities, saying the lack of unity between Christian churches “is a scandal.”
The 78-year-old Argentinean pontiff arrived on Sunday in the CAR for the last leg of his six-day African tour, which first took him to Kenya and then to Uganda.
He met with CAR interim President, Catherine Samba-Panza, visited a camp for displaced people and celebrated a Mass at which he called on Christians to forgive their enemies to overcome violence.
Violence by Christian and Muslim militias has claimed thousands of lives and displaced about a quarter of CAR’s 4.7 million people since mainly Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize, a Christian, in March 2013.
Pope Francis came to CAR despite concern for his security- local security forces received backing from UN peacekeepers and French troops, which together number about 12,000 in CAR.
Francis’ first visit to a crisis zone was his 11th trip abroad since he became pope in 2013. [myad]