In an address at the Vatican Monday, Pope Francis attributed the terrorist attack on satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in Paris to a “culture of enslavement” and “deviant forms of religion.”
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The pontiff made the remarks Monday at his annual address to members of the diplomatic corps who are based in Vatican City. “Losing their freedom, people become enslaved, whether to the latest fads, or to power, money, or even deviant forms of religion,” he said.
“These are dangers which I pointed out in my recent Message for the World Day of Peace, which dealt with the issue of today’s multiple forms of enslavement. All of them are born of a corrupt heart, a heart incapable of recognizing and doing good, of pursuing peace.”
The leader of over 1.2 billion Catholic Christians worldwide continued:
“The Middle East is tragically embroiled in other conflicts which have lasted far too long, with chilling repercussions, due also to the spread of fundamentalist terrorism in Syria and in Iraq. This phenomenon is a consequence of the throwaway culture being applied to God.
“Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext.
“In the face of such unjust aggression, which also strikes Christians and other ethnic and religious groups in the region – the Yazidis for example – a unanimous response is needed, on which, within the framework of international law, can end the spread of of acts of violence, restore harmony and heal the deep wounds which the ongoing conflicts have caused.”
This is not the first time in recent months Pope Francis has condemned Islamic extremism. In November, Francis released a joint declaration with Patriarch Bartholomew I, the leader of 250 million Orthodox Christians,
The statement was released November 30 – the Feast of St. Andrew – and condemned the killing of Christians in the Middle East. It read in part, “We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians, who have professed the name of Jesus there for two thousand years.”
Many of our brothers and sisters are being persecuted and have been forced violently from their homes. It even seems that the value of human life has been lost, that the human person no longer matters and may be sacrificed to other interests. And, tragically, all this is met by the indifference of many.
Pope Francis now embarks on a one week trip to Asia, where he will visit the Philippines and Sri Lanka.
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