Opinion DC Comment 27 Mar 2016 Pope’s noble g ...

Pope’s noble gesture

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Mar 27, 2016, 12:49 am IST
Updated Mar 27, 2016, 12:49 am IST
The world’s safety lies in the central belief that the essential goodness of man must prevail.
Pope Francis washed the feet of 11 young asylum seekers and a worker at their reception centre to highlight the need for the international community to provide shelter to refugees. (Photo: AFP)
 Pope Francis washed the feet of 11 young asylum seekers and a worker at their reception centre to highlight the need for the international community to provide shelter to refugees. (Photo: AFP)

The world today —  wracked by conflict and hate — can do with many more gestures like the noble one the Pope made in lending a wider perspective to the traditional Easter Week foot-washing ceremony restricted to Catholic males. In visiting a refugee centre near the Vatican and washing and kissing the feet of Muslim, Orthodox, Hindu and Catholic refugees, and allowing women and children to witness the event, he broadcast a symbolic gesture of peace at a time when anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments are high in Europe in the wake of the Syria civil war and the resultant wave of refugees. He was only re-enacting the Holy Thursday ritual Jesus Christ performed on his apostles before being crucified, but with a universal twist by including a few major religions.

The security implications for the world due to terrorist attacks by ISIS and the like notwithstanding, it is a fair expectation that religions be seen to be doing more towards attaining a secular state in which people’s different faiths do not necessarily preclude understanding the basic underlying belief in God that drives much of humanity. Recent terror events in Europe and Africa must not distort the reality that it is not religion that drives men into such hate.

 

If all religious heads were to reach out and preach peace, rather than hate and vengeance, the world would ultimately benefit. The tragedy wreaked by terrorism does not discriminate by religion and the lives lost in Ankara are as precious as those in Brussels, Paris and Pathankot. The world’s safety lies in the central belief that the essential goodness of man must prevail. The Pope proves that.

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