Pope Francis, in a speech to Vatican diplomats on Monday, urged religious leaders to ''condemn all fundamentalist and extremist interpretations of religion,'' following last week's attacks in Paris. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
STORY: Pope Francis on Monday (January 12) condemned the "tragic slayings" by Islamic militants in Paris last week and urged Muslim leaders around the world to condemn fundamentalist interpretations of religion which attempt to justify violence in God's name. The 78-year-old Argentine pope made his comments in his annual meeting with diplomats accredited to the Vatican in a wide-ranging speech that has come to be known as his "State of the World" address. The pope told the diplomats that violence is always "the product of a falsification of religion, its use a pretext for ideological schemes whose only goal is power over others". Francis said that the killings in Paris showed how the rejection of the beliefs of other people could lead to violence and death. "The personal dimension of rejection is inevitably accompanied by a social dimension, a culture of rejection which severs the deepest and most authentic human bonds, leading to the breakdown of society and spawning violence and death. We see painful evidence of this in the events reported daily in the news, not least the tragic slayings which took place in Paris a few days ago," he said. Seventeen people, including journalists and police, were killed in three days of violence that began on Wednesday (January 7) with a shooting attack by Islamist militants on the political weekly Charlie Hebdo, known for its satirical attacks on Islam and other religions. "I express my hope that religious, political and intellectual leaders, especially those of the Muslim community, will condemn all fundamentalist and extremist interpretations of religion which attempt to justify such acts of violence," the pope said. The pope closed his long speech with a wish for 2015 to be a year of "hope and peace". "With these sentiments, I once more offer to each of you, to your families and your peoples, my prayerful good wishes that this new year of 2015 will be one of hope and peace," he said. Francis is scheduled to depart on a week-long trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines later on Monday.