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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis criticizes toxic religious to faith leaders: “May the sacred not prop up power”

Pope Francis arrived in a wheelchair to take his place at the seat of honor at the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, alongside the president of Kazakhstan. 

Among the first to greet the Pope was the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, considered the highest authority for Sunni Islamic thought, and a long-time ally of Pope Francis in combatting religious extremism. 

The president of Kazakhstan opened the meeting with a speech on the state of religion around the world today. 

He spoke of the importance of spiritual content online and avoiding polarization. Pope Francis was the first of the religious leaders to speak, and he began by criticizing religious fanatacism, and before representatives of the Russian Patriarch of Moscow, said that God is a God of peace, not of war.

May we never justify violence. May we never allow that the sacred be exploited by the profane. The sacred must never prop up power, and power must never prop up the sacred.

The Pope's presence at the conference was received with much respect, although there were some interesting reactions. Some of the participants took out their cameras to take pictures of him.

Others showed him signs of great respect. The Russian Orthodox Church's foreign minister, Antonij of Volokolamsk, stood before his arrival. Just one month ago, he came to Rome to meet with Pope Francis. 

This conference is held every three years in Kazakhstan, and was inspired by the World Day of Prayer for Peace held in Assisi by Pope John Paul II in 2002.