The Pope held a meeting with Mehmet Gormez, the president of the Department for Religious Affairs of Turkey. It is the highest Islamic religious authority in the country.
After meeting in private, Pope Francis delivered an address in which he denounced the violence of the Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq as well as its intent in eradicating Christianity.
"Particular concern arises from the fact that, owing mainly to an extremist and fundamentalist group, entire communities, especially – though not exclusively – Christians and Yazidis, have suffered and continue to suffer barbaric violence simply because of their ethnic and religious identity. This violence has also brought damage to sacred buildings, monuments, religious symbols and cultural patrimony, as if trying to erase every trace, every memory of the other.”
The Pope stressed the necessary cooperation among religious leaders. He said that he sends a message that "mutual respect and friendship” are possible , especially in these difficult times.
"As religious leaders, we are obliged to denounce all violations against human dignity and human rights. Human life, a gift of God the Creator, possesses a sacred character. As such, any violence which seeks religious justification warrants the strongest condemnation because the Omnipotent is the God of life and peace.”
However, the Pope highlighted the need to work together in finding solutions. He asked for governments and religious leaders to put an end to the violence.
He also recognized the efforts made by Turkey in attending to refugees.
"I wish to express my appreciation for everything that the Turkish people, Muslims and Christians alike, are doing to help the hundreds of thousands of people who are fleeing their countries due to conflicts. This is a clear example of how we can work together to serve others, an example to be encouraged and maintained.”
Concluding his address, the Pope stressed that interreligious dialogue can contribute in promoting moral values, peace and freedom.