Monday, September 30, 2013

Pope Francis: we must never resign ourselves to the pain caused by war

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.

And 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”.

“As leaders 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 do?”

This meeting – the Pope said - suggests the way to go: “the courage of dialogue which gives hope”.

In 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) .

“Continue 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.