Pope Fran­cis praises re­li­gious tol­er­ance in volatile re­gion

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD -

Pope Fran­cis praised Azer­bai­jan on Sun­day as a model for a world di­vided by vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism, sidestep­ping crit­i­cism of the gov­ern­ment for the sake of en­cour­ag­ing re­li­gious tol­er­ance in an of­ten-volatile re­gion where Catholics are a mi­nor­ity.

Fran­cis avoided di­rect men­tion of crit­i­cism in the West over al­le­ga­tions of hu­man rights abuses in Azer­bai­jan and a re­cent gov­ern­ment ref­er­en­dum that ex­tends the pres­i­dent’s term and gives him new pow­ers.

The pope ad­dressed a gath­er­ing of Mus­lim, Jewish and Ortho­dox lead­ers in Azer­bai­jan’s main mosque be­fore head­ing back to Rome af­ter a week­end Cau­ca­sus visit that first took him to Ge­or­gia.

“From this highly sym­bolic place, a heart­felt cry rises up once again: No more vi­o­lence in the name of God!” Fran­cis said. “May his most holy name be adored, not pro­faned or bartered as a com­mod­ity through forms of ha­tred and hu­man op­po­si­tion.”

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