Pope Francis to Plant 1st Virtual Olive Tree at the Vatican

Event Coincides With Anniversary of Start of Pontificate

Pope Francis will today plant the first virtual olive tree to promote peace in the world.

It is an initiative to coincide with the first anniversary of the Mass for the beginning of his Pontificate, which was celebrated in St. Peter’s Square on March 19, 2013.

ZENIT learned of the initiative through Enrique Palmeyro, director general of the Scholas Occurrentes, during a press meeting held Tuesday at the Pius IV Casina in the Vatican.

Palmeyro recalled that “in the year 2000, the then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, planted an olive tree in Plaza de Mayo in the Argentine capital. He was accompanied by ministers of all religious creeds as well as 7,000 students. That same olive tree of peace was the one that the Pope gave to Messi and Buffon, captains of the soccer teams that sponsored the birth of Scholas Occurrentes on August 13, 2013.”

Palmeyro added that, through the Internet, children worldwide will be invited to plant a virtual forest of peace, in which each one will draw a tree of the forest. “Each child will plant an olive tree and this will be a message of encounter and peace. Peace in homes, in schools and in soccer.” It is an effort to foster awareness of the importance of peace, not only understood as the absence of war, but also in families, among friends, and in schools.

Scholas Occurrentes was promoted last year by Francis, during the meeting he had with the teams of Italy and Argentina. This network of schools, which hopes to expand worldwide, is dedicated to the building of a world without exclusion through education.

“It is a movement that is unfolding in the area of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to unite schools, popular sports and solidarity,” he explained.

Over three days, experts in education from around the world and members of the network are presenting experiences that form part of this initiative. The meeting ends today in the presence of Pope Francis.

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