ROCCA DI PAPA, Italy (CNS): Christian Churches should help alert people to the potential abuse of religion as a way to reach certain political goals, said a European Catholic official.
In some countries where people are living in poverty or have little or no voice in government, people “want a way out”, said Msgr Peter Fleetwood, who is deputy general secretary of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences and organiser of a conference dedicated to religion and violence.
In an effort to inform European Church leaders about what Islam and Christianity teach about licit or moral forms of violence, the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences and the Conference of European Churches’ joint committee for relations with Muslims met in mid-March at the English College retreat and conference centre in Rocca di Papa, Italy.
Msgr Fleetwood told journalists on March 17 that the committee had been commissioned by Christian Church leaders and the Catholic bishops in Europe to provide directives on how the Churches could respond to “a very complex situation”.
Martin Affolderbach, who is secretary of Christian-Muslim and interreligious affairs for Germany’s Lutheran Church, said the real difficulty was determining Islamic teaching about the use of violence.
Msgr Fleetwood said the committee’s final statement on religion and violence would be made public at the end of the year.