Vatican: Violence Unacceptable, Religions Must Be Respected

Spokesman Responds to Libya Attack by Reiterating Pope's Message of Dialogue

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 12, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in an attack Tuesday on the consulate in Benghazi. A message from the Vatican today spoke of the "unacceptable violence" unleashed in such situations of tension and hatred.

Initial reports suggested that the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the other three diplomatic workers was in response to a US-produced amateur film that ridiculed Mohammed. Later reports have proposed that the attack was planned and not, or not only, a "payback" for the film.

In any case, the director of the Vatican press office, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, today released a message asserting that "profound respect for the beliefs, texts, outstanding figures and symbols of the various religions" is essential if people hope to coexist peacefully.

"The serious consequences of unjustified offense and provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers are once again evident in these days, as we see the reactions they arouse, sometimes with tragic results, which in their turn nourish tension and hatred, unleashing unacceptable violence," the statement added.

In light of Benedict XVI's planned departure for Lebanon on Friday, the spokesman added that the Pope will be bringing to the Middle East a "message of dialogue and respect for all believers of different religions," which indicates "the path that everyone should follow in order to construct shared and peaceful coexistence among religions and peoples."

US response

The president of the US bishops, New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan, echoed the main lines of the Vatican message.

"Yesterday's events in Libya and Egypt point to what is at stake," Cardinal Dolan said. "We need to be respectful of other religious traditions at the same time that we unequivocally proclaim that violence in the name of religion is wrong."