The First Encounter of “Americas in Dialogue-Our Common Home” concluded in Rome with an address by Pope Francis in which he implored participants in the international interreligious congress to build a “more human world” in which “everyone is needed”. He exhorted that “Every human being is the greatest gift that God can give us” while calling on participants “to fight for our common home”. (Unofficial translation) The speech can be read in Spanish and Italian.
The congress was organized by the Institute of Inter-religious Dialogue, Buenos Aires in partnership with the Organization of American States (OAS) with collaboration of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The pope’s address centered on his encyclical letter “Laudato Si” and emphasized the need for religions to promote care and respect of the environment and creation which he described as “the fruit of his love toward us.”
In discussing the path of dialogue, Pope Francis affirmed the sacredness of human life from its very beginning to natural end and called for the defense of fundamental freedoms stating, “…we are witnessing the goodness of God who has given us life; this is sacred and must be respected, not belittled. The believer is an advocate of creation and life, cannot remain silent or passive in the face so many rights destroyed with impunity… men and women of faith are called to defend life in all its stages, physical integrity and fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of conscience, thought, expression and religion.”
Pope Francis noted “with pain” that sometimes “the name of religion is used to commit atrocities such as terrorism, and sow fear and violence and consequently religions are designated as responsible for the evil around us” calling for a joint condemnation of such charges.
In addressing the purpose of interfaith dialogue he spoke of the “need to share the pain as well as the hopes, to walk together, taking care of each other and of creation, defend and promote the common good” while finding answers “to the many scourges of our world, including the scourges of war and hunger, abject poverty, ecological crises, violence, corruption and moral degradation, the crisis of the family, the economy, and above all, the lack of hope.”
Pope Francis appeared to coyly raise concern about population control measures that impact the very existence of future generations by cryptically asking if present efforts to leave a better world for our children will ensure that there will be children to enjoy that world,”Y ¿habrá hijos para eso?” (And there will be children for that?)
The dialogue emerges from a similar interreligious dialogue Pope Francis began 16 years ago in Buenos Aires, the Institute for Interreligious Dialogue (IDI), along with Rabbi Daniel Goldman, Islamic leader Omar Abboud, and Catholic priest Guillermo Marcó, all of whom presented at the congress along with Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro.
The OAS described the purpose of the dialogue as part of the initiative “Protecting our Common Home: Ensuring rights for more people in the Americas” that was launched by the General Secretariat of the OAS “to create a platform for dialogue between the countries of the OAS, that supports reconciliation and the search for solutions for the protection of our Common Home, and to produce a Plan of Action for the next three years.” The Declaration from the “First Encounter- Americas in Dialogue-Our Common Home” can be found here.
According to Vatican radio,Pope Francis addressed the need to ensure that every human being is a part of God’s creation and should not be “excluded or deleted” or treated as “excess”. The Pope concluded his remarks with the following:
“Moreover, God’s love envelops all creation; and we as believers have a responsibility to protect, nurture and heal in need. This circumstance Jubilee Year is a chance to open further opportunities for dialogue, to reach out to the suffering brother, as well as to fight for our common house a home, where everyone has a place and no one is excluded or deleted. Every human being is the greatest gift that God can give us.
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“I invite you to work and to promote initiatives together, so that together we are aware of the care and protection of the common house, building an ever morehuman world, where no one left over and where we are all necessary. And I ask God to bless us all.”
The fact that OAS entities have been leading promoters of access to abortion, contraception, comprehensive sexuality education for youth, the morning after bill and anti-family policies in the Americas caused the event to be viewed with cautious suspicion by those who work to defend a culture of life.
PNCI hopes that OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, OAS officials, and the 18 countries present at the congress will embrace Pope Francis’ call to “defend life in all its stages” and adhere to the American Convention on Human Rights which states in Article 4 “Every person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law and, in general, from the moment of conception. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.“
LifeNews.com Note: Marie Smith is the director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues.