ROME (JTA) — Pope Benedict XVI told a multifaith prayer session he convened that he was ashamed of the violence used in the name of Christianity.
"As a Christian I want to say at this point: yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith,” Benedict said Thursday in Assisi, Italy. The gathering came 25 years after Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, convened a similar prayer for peace in the hometown of St. Francis.
“We acknowledge it with great shame," the pope said. "But it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the Christian faith, one that evidently contradicts its true nature."
Representing Jews was Rabbi David Rosen, the director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, who has a decades-long relationship with the Vatican.
Rosen likened the aspiration for peace to the Torah commandment to make pilgrimages.
"For demonstrating this aspiration in such a visible manner already in Assisi 25 years ago, we owe a debt of gratitude to the memory of blessed John Paul II and we must give profound thanks to his successor Pope Benedict XVI for continuing in this path," he said. "May this gathering today reinvigorate all men and women of faith and good will to redound our efforts to make this goal a reality, the reality that brings true blessing and healing to humanity, as it is written ‘peace, peace, to the far and to the near and I shall heal him."