Pope Francis joins religious leaders at Bahrain forum

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With Russia’s war in Ukraine raging, Pope Francis joined Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders Friday in calling for the world’s great religions work together for peace, telling an interfaith summit that religion must never be used to justify violence and that faith leaders must counter the “child-like” whims of the powerful to make war.

On his second day in the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain, Francis closed out a conference on East-West dialogue sponsored by King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

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Sitting with him in the Sakhir royal palace grounds were leading Muslim imams, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, and US rabbis who have long engaged in interfaith dialogue, as well as the king.

Speaker after speaker called for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine and the start of peace negotiations.

King Hamad, for his part, urged a coherent effort to stop Russia’s war in Ukraine and promote peace negotiations, “for the good of all of humanity.”

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar joined Francis in Bahrain.

In his prepared remarks, he called Friday for an end to Russia’s war “to spare the lives of innocents who have no hand in this violent tragedy.”

Al-Tayeb also called for Sunni and Shia Muslims to engage in a similar process of dialogue and try to heal any differences, saying Al-Azhar was prepared to host such an encounter.

“Let us together stop any talk of hate, provocation and excommunication, and set aside ancient and modern conflict in all its forms and with all its negative consequences,” he said.

Later Friday, al-Tayeb was to meet privately with Francis and participate in a larger gathering at the mosque in the royal palace with the Muslim Council of Elders, which he heads.

Read more: Pope Francis arrives in Bahrain to promote interfaith dialogue

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