Pontiff says young must be taught 'to avoid ridiculing or denigrating' other faiths

Muslims and Christians must raise young people “to think and speak respectfully of other religions and their followers, and to avoid ridiculing or denigrating their convictions and practices”, Pope Francis has said.

In a personal message to the world’s Muslims to mark the end of Ramadan, the Pope said: “Turning to mutual respect in inter-religious relations, especially between Christians and Muslims, we are called to respect the religion of the other, its teachings, its symbols, its values. Particular respect is due to religious leaders and to places of worship. How painful are attacks on one or other of these!

“It is clear that, when we show respect for the religion of our neighbours or when we offer them our good wishes on the occasion of a religious celebration, we simply seek to share their joy, without making reference to the content of their religious convictions.

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“Regarding the education of Muslim and Christian youth, we have to bring up our young people to think and speak respectfully of other religions and their followers, and to avoid ridiculing or denigrating their convictions and practices.

“We all know that mutual respect is fundamental in any human relationship, especially among people who profess religious belief. In this way, sincere and lasting friendship can grow.”

In a break with custom, Pope Francis personally signed the message, which is usually issued by the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

He wrote: “This year, the first of my pontificate, I have decided to sign this traditional message myself and to send it to you, dear friends, as an expression of esteem and friendship for all Muslims, especially those who are religious leaders.”

You can read the full text of the Pope’s message here.

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