Religious diversity and respect for refugees
by Michael Seifert
The head of all Catholics in the world, Pope Francis, receives thousands of pilgrims for a general audience in front of St. Peter’s in Rome every Wednesday. tünews-INTERNATIONAL-Editor Michael Seifert took part on April 3rd. Here is his report.
As part of the general audience, the pope always gives a short speech, mostly about religious matters. On this Wednesday he became very political, spoke very freely and left his official manuscript again and again. On the occasion of a trip to Morocco, from which he had just returned, he talked about the relationship between Catholics and Muslims. At first he asked, “Why is the Pope visiting Muslims and not just to Catholics? Some people want to know that. Because I see that there are so many religions in the world. But why does God allow so many religions? It is his will that there is this reality of many religions, and I acknowledge that. They come from different cultures and all look up to heaven, to God. But what God wants is the fraternal communion among all of us from different religions. The Muslims and we are anyway brothers as descendants of Abraham. We must not forget the differences, but together we must do the work of brotherhood. And that means above all building bridges.”
Building bridges can be achieved especially in dealing with migrants and refugees. Here he sees four necessary steps: “We have to take in the migrants, help and support them and integrate them.” And then he criticized the linguistic usage: “I do not like the term migrants or refugees, because these are adjectives. I prefer: people or people who have fled. We have fallen into a culture of adjectives – and adjectives alone, without nouns, are too fluid or gaseous, without substance. Respect requires using a noun because it’s about specific people.”
Finally, Pope Francis said that he was very impressed by what Christian churches in Morocco are doing with volunteers from 60 nations for refugees – according to Jesus’ motto: “I was a stranger and you took me in.”