Photo: People pay their respects at the site of a deadly shooting in Vienna, November 4, 2020 (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

Cardinals Charles Bo of Myanmar, Blase Cupich of the US, Dieudonné Nzapalainga of the Central African Republic, Philippe Ouédraogo of Burkina Faso, Luis Antonio Tagle of the Vatican and Damasceno Assis of Brazil have joined religious leaders in over 90 countries around the world in recommitting to build “bridges of love, compassion and care” after the recent terror attacks in France, Austria and other places.

Condemning Violence in the Name of Religion – Committing to Building Bridges with Love

Full text of the statement from Religions for Peace International

(Source: Religions for Peace)

Representing the world’s diverse religious traditions and institutions, the Religions for Peace World Council strongly condemns the horrific acts of terror and violence in France and elsewhere in the world, which are claimed in the name of religion. We express deep sympathy and lift our prayers for the families of the victims.

We note that Muslim leaders from all corners of the world have roundly refuted the claim to these acts of horror, being 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. However, it does not justify breaking the very principles laid down in Islam, and in every faith, to prevent atrocities.

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.

Freedom of speech is a human right, without doubt. It is also a liberty that requires civility. Hand in hand with freedom of speech comes the shared value of honouring the dignity of all human beings. Words are powerful in their own right. In a fractured world, words should foster respect and cohesion in society, rather than intensify divides.

We, as representatives of the world’s diverse religious traditions, recommit ourselves to multi-religious respectful discourse, and actions, to heal the wounds and promote peace with justice.

Our shared mission lies in what the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” calls for and what His Holiness Pope Francis concludes in his most recent Encyclical Fratelli Tutti: “we were made for love and love builds bridges.”

As a movement of Religions for Peace, we will continue to work, through our affiliated interreligious councils, women of faith and interfaith youth networks in over 90 countries in all regions of the world, and through our respective religious institutions, to build such bridges of love, compassion and care for human dignity and shared well-being for all.

In the meantime, we call for calm everywhere. We ask that we 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.

Novena’s full coverage of the wave of terrorism in Europe:

Vatican cardinal dissociates religion from terror, links extremism to “policies of hunger, poverty, injustice and oppression” (full text)

French Muslims denounce “attacks against France”, condemn “all violence perpetrated in the name of our religion”

EU Bishops’ president insists blaming Islam, immigration for terror “does not reflect the truth”

4/11: General Audience: Pope expresses “dismay and reprobation” at “deplorable” terrorism “escalating in its cruelty throughout Europe”

In wake of terror, World Council of Churches, Vienna interfaith group plead: “Bring this bloodshed to an end”

Pope clamours after Vienna attack: “Enough violence! Let us together strengthen peace and fraternity. Only love can silence hate”


Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.