(Vatican Radio) The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has reiterated Pope Francis’ view that it is not religion which fuels extremist violence, but rather “political interests” and “societal ills”. Religion has itself been manipulated and hijacked as a pretext for intolerance and extremism, he said, yet religious communities are uniquely placed to fight the root causes of violence through education and support of vulnerable families.
The cardinal made his remarks at the United Nations headquarters in New York where he was leading the Holy See’s delegation to a migration summit and to the 71st session of the UN General Assembly. He spoke on Tuesday at two side events, the first focused on ‘Fighting Radicalization and Extremism thorough Education’ and the second entitled ‘The Role of Religious Leaders in Preventing Crimes of Atrocity’.
The Secretary of State stressed that faith leaders play a crucial role in educating and forming responsible citizens in order to counter destructive narratives that engender radicalization and extremism. To do this effectively, he said religious communities must be open to dialogue with one another and to broader society. This is the only way to overcome the ignorance that underlies attitudes of hate and mistrust which fuel extremism, he said.
The cardinal called for closer cooperation between civil society and faith-based communities, as well as practical and financial support for religious leaders who seek to assist vulnerable families at risk of radicalization.
Finally Cardinal Parolin pointed to Pope Francis’ message for the next World Day of Peace which is entitled “Non-Violence: A Style of Politics for Peace”. He said all our efforts to combat radicalization must be rooted in a desire for peace through the safeguarding of the rights and dignity of all.