Vatican City, 30 November 2015 (VIS) - “Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters. We must therefore consider ourselves and conduct ourselves as such. We are well aware that the recent events and acts of violence which have shaken your country were not grounded in properly religious motives. Those who claim to believe in God must also be men and women of peace”. The Holy Father addressed these words to the Muslim community of the Central African Republic this morning in the mosque of Koudoukou, a few kilometres from Bangui. Francis was received by five imams who accompanied him to the podium situated in the mosque, a short distance away from the area reserved for prayer. The event was attended by around two hundred people.
“Christians, Muslims and members of the traditional religions have lived together in peace for many years”, he continued. “They ought, therefore, to remain united in working 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, to the detriment of the common good. 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. God is peace, salam”.
Francis emphasised the important role played by Christian and Muslim leaders in re-establishing harmony and fraternity among all, and expressed his gratitude and appreciation. “We can also call to mind the many acts of solidarity which Christians and Muslims have shown with regard to their fellow citizens of other religious confessions, by welcoming them and defending them during this latest crisis in your country, as well as in other parts of the world”.
He added, “We cannot fail to express hope that the forthcoming national consultations will provide the country with leaders capable of bringing Central Africans together, thus becoming symbols of national unity rather than merely representatives of one faction or another. I strongly urge you to make your country a welcoming home for all its children, regardless of their ethnic origin, political affiliation or religious confession. The Central African Republic, situated in the heart of Africa, with the cooperation of all her sons and daughters, will then prove a stimulus in this regard to the entire continent. It will prove a positive influence and help extinguish the smouldering tensions which prevent Africans from benefiting from that development which they deserve and to which they have a right”.
He concluded by inviting those present to “pray and work for reconciliation, fraternity and solidarity among all people, without forgetting those who have suffered the most as a result of recent events”.