Pope Francis has slammed "fundamentalist-inspired terrorism" which "misuses God's name in order to disseminate death".
Speaking to diplomats from more than 180 countries, the pontiff listed attacks by Islamist militants that took place last year across Europe, Africa, Asia and the US.
"Sadly, we are conscious that even today, religious experience, rather than fostering openness to others, can be used at times as a pretext for rejection, marginalisation and violence," he said today in the Vatican's Sala Regia.
"We are dealing with a homicidal madness which misuses God's name in order to disseminate death, in a play for domination and power. Hence I appeal to all religious authorities to join in reaffirming unequivocally that one can never kill in God's name."
The Pope said religiously inspired violence "is the fruit of a profound spiritual poverty, and often is linked to significant social poverty. It can only be fully defeated with the joint contribution of religious and political leaders."
He urged government leaders from around the globe to invest in education and culture and create "suitable social policies aimed at combating poverty".
He also called for a total ban on nuclear weapons, for an end to the arms trade and for a renewed vigour in tackling climate change by world leaders.
In an interview with Spanish 'La Vanguardia' magazine last year, Pope Francis branded religious violence a "contradiction".
"Violence in the name of God does not correspond with our time," he said.
"A fundamentalist group, although it may not kill anyone, although it may not strike anyone, is violent. The mental structure of fundamentalists is violence in the name of God."
Additional reporting by Reuters.