Pope Francis on Monday addressed participants of the International Meeting for Peace in the spirit of Assisi organised by the Rome-based Community of Saint Egidio.
The meeting, held from September 29 to
October 1 sees the participation of religious leaders of all
denominations and of men and women who are committed to building peace
in the world.
In his address, the Pope referred to the theme
of this year’s event which is “The Courage to Hope” and noted that it
follows in the steps of the historic 1986 meeting in Assisi that the
Blessed John Paul II convened, inviting religious leaders of different
Churches to pray together for peace. And he thanked the St. Egidio
Community for continuing in this path, increasing the momentum, engaging
in and promoting meaningful dialogue between personalities and
representatives of all religions and secular humanists.
the Pope pointed out that in the past few months it has become evident
that the world needs the "spirit" that sparked that historic meeting.
He said “we must never resign ourselves to the pain of entire peoples
who are hostages of war, poverty, exploitation. We must not stand by
helpless and indifferent before the tragedy of children, families and
elderly people who are affected by violence. We can not allow terrorism
to imprison the heart of a few violent people and to sow so much death
and pain. Let us all say out loud, without interruption, that there can
be no religious justification for violence; in whatever way it manifests
itself. As Pope Benedict XVI pointed out two years ago, on the 25th
anniversary of the Assisi meeting, all forms of religiously motivated
violence must be stamped out, and together we must make sure the world
does not fall prey to that violence that is contained in every project
of civilization which is based on a "no" to God”.
of the different religions we can do much. Peace is everyone's
responsibility. Praying for peace, working for peace! A religious leader
is always a man of peace, because the commandment of peace is inscribed
in the depths of the religious traditions we represent. But what can we
This meeting – the Pope said - suggests the way to go: “the courage of dialogue which gives hope”.
the world, in society – he continued - there is little peace also
because there is no dialogue, it is hard to look beyond the narrow
horizon of one’s own interests and be open to a true and sincere
exchange. Peace - he said – needs a dialogue that is tenacious, patient,
strong and intelligent. Dialogue can win over war. Thanks to dialogue
people of different generations, who often ignore each other, can live
together; just as citizens from different ethnic backgrounds and
different beliefs can live together if there is dialogue. Dialogue is
the way of peace. Because dialogue encourages understanding, harmony
and peace. That’s why dialogue must grow and spread among people of
every condition and conviction, like a network of peace that protects
the world and the most vulnerable.
Pope Francis concluded his
message calling on religious leaders to be true “partners in dialogue".
To be active in building peace, not as intermediaries, but as
authentic mediators. “Intermediaries” – he said - “seek to grant
discounts to all parties in order to obtain gains for themselves.
Mediators are the ones who keep nothing for themselves, but expend
themselves generously, in the knowledge that the only true gain is that
of peace”. Each of us – he said - is called to be an artisan of peace,
uniting and not dividing, extinguishing - not conserving - hatred,
opening the paths of dialogue, not erecting new walls! And he urged them
to “talk and meet to establish the culture of dialogue, the culture of
encounter, in the world”.
Finally the Pope remembered the
legacy of that first Assisi meeting that continues to be nurtured year
after year thanks also to the work of the Saint. Egidio community. He
said it shows how dialogue is intimately linked to prayer. “Dialogue and
prayer grow or perish together”. And he recalled that Pope Paul VI
spoke of "the transcendent origin of dialogue" saying: "Religion is by
nature a relationship between God and man. Prayer expresses this
relationship through dialogue" (Encyclical Ecclesiam suam , 72) .
to pray for the peace of the world, in Syria, in the Middle East, in
many countries of the world. May this courage of peace give the courage
of hope to the world, to all those who suffer in war, to young people
who look with concern to their future. Almighty God, who listens to our
prayers, support us in this journey of peace.