Pope Francis: God 'must never be used to justify hatred and violence'
Pope Francis delivers his Sunday Angelus prayer from the window of the apostolic palace overlooking St Peter's Square in the Vatican on August 30, 2015 (AFP Photo/Alberto Pizzoli)

Pope Francis said Thursday in Kenya that God's name should never be invoked to justify violence.

The pontiff expressed the importance of inter-religious dialogue during a meeting with faith leaders in Nairobi.

"In an increasingly interdependent world, we see ever more clearly the need for inter-religious understanding, friendship and collaboration in defending the God-given dignity of individuals and peoples, and their right to live in freedom and happiness," he remarked, according to Vatican Radio.

"Here I think of the importance of our common conviction that the God whom we seek to serve is a God of peace," he added. "His holy Name must never be used to justify hatred and violence."

The pope described the Westgate mall and Garissa University College attacks as "barbarous." Both attacks were carried out by Somalia's Al Shabaab, a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda.

"All too often, young people are being radicalized in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies," the pope said. "How important it is that we be seen as prophets of peace, peacemakers who invite others to live in peace, harmony and mutual respect! May the Almighty touch the hearts of those who engage in this violence, and grant his peace to our families and communities."