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Saturday 19.08.2017 | Name days: Melānija, Imanta

Pope urges dialogue with Islam

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Pope Francis urged the West on Friday, March 22, to intensify dialogue with Islam and appealed to the world to do more to combat poverty and protect the environment.

Speaking in Italian, the new pontiff said richer countries should fight what he called “the spiritual poverty of our times” by re-forging links with God.

Some critics of the Catholic Church, which has been struggling with scandals and internal divisions, say its rejection of contraception in particular harms the poor. Others say it does much good in the developing world, running thousands of hospitals, schools, orphanages and hospices, Reuters reported.

Francis made his appeal in an address to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, sending a message through them to the leaders of the 180 states with which the Vatican has diplomatic relations.

He urged them to help keep religion central in public life and promote inter-religious dialogue as a catalyst for efforts to build peace.

“In this work (peace building), the role of religion is fundamental. It is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God,” he said.

“But the converse is also true: it is not possible to establish true links with God while ignoring other people. Hence it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam.”

Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, said he was grateful that many Muslim religious and civilian leaders attended his inaugural Mass on Tuesday.

He underlined the importance of defending the poor when he explained why he had decided to take the name of St. Francis of Assisi, who is associated with austerity and help for the poor.

“Fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges: these, as it were, are the reference points for a journey that I want to invite each of the countries here represented to take up,” he said.

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