Former Israeli President Shimon Peres met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday to discuss a number of proposals on forming a united front against terrorism, including the idea to create a “United Religions” organization to combat religious extremism.
In his meeting, Peres told the pontiff that the Arab world recognizes the growing threat of terrorism that is being carried out by groups like the Islamic State. He said the Arab world “can join forces with Israel, the United States, and the European Union in the united front against terror in which religious leaders play a pivotal role, led by Your Holiness.”
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Famiglia Cristiana, Peres continued his call for world religious leaders to come together, proposing a de facto “United Nations of religions.”
“The U.N. has had its day,” Peres said. “What we need is an organization of religions, a United Nations of religions. It would be the best way to fight these terrorist who kill in the name of faith, because the majority of people are not like them, practice their religion without killing anyone, even without thinking about it.”
Pope Francis also met with Jordanian Prince El Hassan bin Talal, who is the co-founder of the Geneva-based Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue. The prince briefed the pontiff on the foundation’s work amid the ongoing upheaval in the Middle East.
In August, the Vatican called on Muslim leaders to “unequivocally condemn” the violence being carried about by terrorist groups like Islamic State against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. The Vatican even hinted that it would break off interreligious dialogue with Muslim leaders if nothing is done to address the issue.