People attend a candlelight vigil remembering the victims of the terrorist attack in Vienna, Austria, on Nov. 5. (Photo: AFP)
Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon has joined with other world religious leaders to call for "building bridges" after horrific acts of terror and violence in the name of religion in France and elsewhere in the world.
The cardinal is the president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conference as well as co-president of Religions for Peace.
“It is our obligation as faith leaders to model responses that are dignified, humane and merciful rather than vengeful. To be vengeful is to unleash destruction and doom for ourselves and others. We all share a responsibility to push back against any political discourse that would marginalize or alienate believers of any faith,” the Religions for Peace World Council said in a statement on Nov. 4.
“Freedom of speech is a human right, without doubt. It is also liberty that requires civility. Hand in hand with freedom of speech comes the shared value of honoring the dignity of all human beings.”
The leaders noted that words foster “respect and cohesion” in society rather than “intensify divides.”
The leaders have called for calm everywhere and to be considerate in the words we use and the determination of our actions in order to generate “peace, serenity, dignity and respect for all human beings.”
“We must be deliberate and insistent in building bridges with love,” they stressed.
Muslim leaders from all corners of the world have roundly refuted the claim that these acts of horror were done in the name of Islam.
“There is no doubt that Muslims, whether they reside in France or elsewhere across the world, experience hurt when their prophet is seemingly insulted,” the leaders said. “However, it does not justify breaking the very principles laid down in Islam, and in every faith, to prevent atrocities.”
Representing the world’s diverse religious traditions, the leaders said they recommit themselves to “multireligious respectful discourse, and actions, to heal the wounds and promote peace with justice.”
Their shared mission lies in what the document on “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” calls for and what Pope Francis concludes in his recent encyclical Fratelli tutti: “We were made for love and love builds bridges.”
Pope Francis has described it as “an escalation of cruelty” and called for prayers and remembrance for the defenseless victims of terror attacks this week.
“In these days in which we pray for the deceased, let us remember the helpless victims of terrorism that has led to an escalation of cruelty that is spreading in Europe,” the pope said.
The pontiff said these events sought to compromise fraternal collaboration between religions through violence and hatred.
The statement by world religious leaders comes after three people died in a knife attack inside the Basilica of Notre Dame in Nice on Oct. 30 and four people were killed close to the main synagogue in Vienna on Nov. 2.