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Pope Francis and other religious leaders come together with “Make Friends” effort

© ServizioFotograficoOR/CPP
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The Holy Father took part in a video series aimed to promote friendship among people of different faiths

For there to be true peace in the world, people of different religions must reach out to each other, and through mutual respect and understanding forge friendships. That was the message presented by Pope Francis and other prominent religious leaders last week, as part of the Elijah Interfaith Institute’s “Make Friends” appeal.

Pope Francis joined the Dalai Lama, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Chief Rabbis David Lau and Jonathan Sacks, Sri Sri Ravi Sankar, Hindu spiritual leader Amma and many other prominent religious leaders in a video montage calling for people of different religions to get to know each other.

The pope also joined Rabbi Abraham Skorka, in a video in which the two discuss how they came to be friends while the pope served as archbishop of Buenos Aires. The pair co-wrote a book of conversations on Judaism and Catholicism entitled, “On Heaven and Earth,” hosted a television program together, and preached at each other’s religious services.

In the video Rabbi Skorka said, “It was our religiousness that allowed us to unfold a very deep dialogue which touched both of our hearts. A sincere and straightforward dialogue which was shaped by the norms of our religious traditions.”

Pope Francis emphasized the importance of establishing an atmosphere of mutual trust in which each person feels free to express and hold his own beliefs.

“We knew that in our conversations, and I want to highlight that, none of us negotiated our own identity. If we had, we wouldn’t have been able to talk. It would have been a sham,” said Pope Francis.

The website for the Elijah Interfaith Institute, which has offices in Israel and Dallas, Texas, states that “Friendship and getting to know one another are the antidotes to negativity and divisions in society, enhancing understanding and unity.”

The “Make Friends” videos are part of a social media campaign to urge people share their message:

“We pray that the message and example of unity, shown by these leaders, will contribute to bridging divisions by inspiring you and your friends to start new conversations with people of different faiths. Follow the example, spread the message.”

For more information on the “Make Friends” campaign click here.

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