THE Pope has likened aggressive atheistic secularism to Islamist
extremism because they both "eliminate God" in pursuit of
Each involved the enslavement of people to the false gods of a
"throwaway culture", Pope Francis suggested, in his annual address
to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, which was held in Rome on
Such throwaway cultures invariably rejected God, then rejected
people, too, "leading to the breakdown of society and the spawning
violence and death", he said.
"We see painful evidence of this in the events reported daily in
the news, not least the tragic slayings which took place in Paris,"
the Pope said, referring to the slaughter of 12 staff of the
Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine by Islamist terrorists,
and the murder of four hostages in a Jewish delicatessen in the
"Other people are no longer regarded as beings of equal dignity,
as brothers or sisters sharing a common humanity, but rather as
objects," he continued.
"Losing their freedom, people become enslaved, whether to the
latest fads, or to power, money, or even deviant forms of
religion," he said, in an apparent allusion to Western consumer
"All of them are born of a corrupt heart, a heart incapable of
recognising and doing good, of pursuing peace."
Islamic fundamentalism, the Pope said, was a particular
"consequence of the throwaway culture being applied to God.
"Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human
beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself,
turning him into a mere ideological pretext."
He urged governments to do all they could to help refugees
fleeing Islamist violence in Syria and Iraq, and he called on
Muslim religious leaders to "condemn all fundamentalist and
extremist interpretations of religion which attempt to justify such
acts of violence", such as the slaughter of children in
The world's governments, the Pope said, must strive to "end
every form of fighting, hatred, and violence, and to pursue
reconciliation, peace, and the defence of the transcendent dignity
of the human person".
He encouraged dialogue between the Israelis and the
Palestinians, and also between rivals in Ukraine.
The Pope also spoke about the rights of migrants fleeing
conflicts, and their exploitation at the hands of "unscrupulous and
greedy thugs".He said that, even if migrants successfully arrived
in safe countries, they must then face "the drama of rejection". "A
change of attitude is needed on our part," he said, "moving from
indifference and fear to genuine acceptance of others."
The Pope denounced the abduction and rape of girls in such
places as Nigeria, describing human trafficking as a "scourge which
needs to be eradicated", and spoke of the need for peace in Sudan,
the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African
He also urged the international community to do all it could to
combat the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa.
Turning his attention to Western societies, the Pope condemned
attitudes that saw the family as "disposable", saying that they
were anchored in an "individualistic and self-centred culture". He
said that in such "drab" societies, even in Rome, "many people . .
. have literally lost the sense of being alive."
On a more positive note, he expressed the hope that in the
coming year the international community would draw up the Post-2015
Development Agenda, adopting Sustainable Development Goals, and
draft a new Climate Change Agreement.