Religion vital for world peace, says Germany’s Merkel

Munich – Religion is vital for world peace and unity, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a conference organized by an Italian Catholic peace group Monday in the German city of Munich.

‘The separation of church and state should never make us forget that we easily become arrogant without belief in God,’ Merkel told the meeting in Munich’s old royal palace.

‘Politics can encourage cohesion, but it can’t command it to happen,’ she said. Politics relied on social attitudes that were cultivated by Christian churches and which expressed a shared belief in human dignity.

The conference, with 1,500 participants, was organized by the Sant’Egidio Community, a group of Catholic lay people from Rome who operate independently from the official church, and the Catholic archdiocese of Munich.

Sant’Egidio Community founder Andrea Riccardi said the 2001 hijacked-plane attacks on New York and Washington had ‘seemed to confirm the theory of a war of religions’ and had ‘rehabilitated’ war. He called for a return to peace.

‘After ten tough years that sprung from September 11, 2001, a change is needed,’ he said.

Merkel said the attacks had been a case where ‘religion was wickedly misused in our own times.’

‘I believe that combatting poverty and injustice are a good way to remove the sources of terrorism,’ she added.