Terrorism represents a “fundamental threat to our common humanity” and people of faith must condemn religion-based terrorism, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, told the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday. Invoking the founding of the United Nations after World War II and the defeat of Nazi Germany, he said Sept. 24 that countries once again “must come together in order to fulfill our primary responsibility to protect people threatened by violence and direct assaults on their human dignity.” The cardinal addressed the security council during open debate on foreign terrorist fighters and their threats to international peace, according to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations. Cardinal Parolin specifically rejected terrorism based in religion, affirming that religious persons have a “grave responsibility to condemn those who seek to detach faith from reason and instrumentalize faith as a justification for violence.” He cited Pope Francis’ words during his Sept. 21 visit to Albania, which condemned the use of religion “as a pretext for actions against human dignity and against the fundamental rights of every man and woman, above all, the right to life and the right of everyone to religious freedom!” The cardinal cited Pope Francis’ words to Albanian religious leaders praising religious traditions that beget “service that shows conviction, generosity and concern for the whole of society without making distinctions.” The cardinal also noted St. John Paul II’s words after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. His remarks stressed the need to identify accurately those guilty of terrorism and the need to avoid wrongly extending guilt to the nation, ethnicity, or religion of the terrorists. Cardinal Parolin endorsed efforts to achieve cultural understanding among different peoples and countries, as well as efforts to secure “social justice for all.” He encouraged international cooperation to address the “root causes” of international terrorism, which he said included socio-cultural issues. “Young people travelling abroad to join the ranks of terrorist organizations often come from poor immigrant families, disillusioned by what they feel as a situation of exclusion and by the lack of integration and values in certain societies.” He encouraged governments to cooperate with institutions of civil society to help integrate at-risk communities into broader society to prevent radicalization and terrorist recruitment.
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