VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Monday denounced the religious fundamentalism that inspired the Paris massacres and ongoing Mideast conflicts, saying the attackers were enslaved by "deviant forms of religion" that used God as a mere ideological pretext to perpetuate mass killings.
In his annual foreign policy address to Vatican-based ambassadors, Francis called for a unanimous response from the international community to end "fundamentalist terrorism" in the Mideast. And he called for Muslim leaders in particular to condemn "extremist interpretations" of their faith that seek to justify such violence.
The leader of the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church has stepped up his call for Muslim political, religious and intellectual leaders to vocally insist that Islam doesn't condone such violence.
Francis said the Paris attacks were the result of a "throwaway culture" in which human beings and even God are rejected outright. Referring to the "tragic slayings" in Paris, Francis said those responsible had become "enslaved" by new fads and "deviant forms of religion."
"Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext," he said.
Francis also denounced the "abominable" kidnapping and enslavement of young girls by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria and the slaughter of "unspeakable brutality" of more than 100 children by the Taliban in Pakistan.
Referring specifically to the U.S., Francis welcomed the planned closure of the Guantanamo prison and the recent U.S.-Cuba rapprochement that he himself helped facilitate. He called for a change in attitude toward accepting refugees, noting the many unaccompanied Latin American children migrating to the U.S. are "are all the more at risk and in need of greater care, attention and protection."
He said he hoped 2015 would bring progress toward a new climate change agreement, saying in a brief deviation from his text that it was "urgent."
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