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Hindus commend Pope Francis for reaching out to non-believers in Xmas address

Hindus have commended His Holiness Pope Francis’s invitation to non-believers to unite for peace.

In his “Urbi et Orbi” message in Vatican City on December 25, Pope Francis said: "And I also invite non-believers to desire peace with that yearning that makes the heart grow: all united, either by prayer or by desire. But all of us, for peace."

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a release in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was heartwarming to learn that largest religious leader of the world Pope was coming out of his Roman Catholic shell to reach out to non-believers in pursuit of peace. It was a step forward in inclusiveness, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, added.

Zed pointed out that it was quite a change of heart for the Vatican as His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI appeared to associate atheism with the Nazis in his speech at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh (United Kingdom) on September 16, 2010.

Rajan Zed argued that in his encyclical “Caritas in Veritate” (Charity in Truth) issued in Rome in 2009, Pope was also highly critical of atheists and humanists: “…ideological rejection of God and an atheism of indifference, oblivious to the Creator and at risk of becoming equally oblivious to human values, constitute some of the chief obstacles to development today. A humanism which excludes God is an inhuman humanism.” This encyclical letter is considered the highest form of papal teaching.

Zed, however, applauded Holy See efforts in 2011 of launching a new Vatican structure termed as the "Courtyard of the Gentiles", the aim of which was to promote dialogue and encounter between believers and non-believers.

Rajan Zed further said that as Catholics and Hindus and others had freedom of their belief systems and were respected for their respective choices, and so should be the atheists. We all should be more inclusive if we wanted to create harmony in the world.

Who were we as human beings to judge publicly that other humans’ beliefs different than us were wrong? Zed asked.

Frankly, it was the fault of us religious leaders (which included Pope also) and organizations that atheism was growing in the world. We (including Pope) needed to do a better job to make religion more vibrant, attractive and engaging to keep people in God’s fold, Rajan Zed noted.

Atheism is disbelief in the existence of God and atheists argue that there is little or no real evidence for the existence of God. Pope Francis heads the Roman Catholic Church, which is the largest of the Christian denominations. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.

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