‘May we never forget that peace is not only the fruit of our human efforts, but of openness to God’
Pope Francis gave this reminder in his message to the International Interreligious Peace Meeting, with the theme ‘Paths of Peace,’ taking place Sept. 10-12 in Münster, Germany. It is organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio and the Dioceses of Münster and Osnabrück.
Recalling that last year he celebrated the 30th anniversary of this process of peace and dialogue initiated by Saint John Paul II in Assisi in 1986, the Pope said these efforts: “remain timely and necessary as conflicts, violence, terrorism and war increasingly threaten millions of persons, violate the sacredness of human life, and make us all more uncertain and vulnerable.”
Noting this year’s theme is an invitation to forge new paths of peace, Francis expressed: “How greatly this is needed, especially where conflicts seem intractable, where the will to undertake processes of reconciliation is lacking, where trust is placed in arms and not in dialogue, thus leaving entire peoples plunged into a dark night of violence, without hope for a dawn of peace.”
Thirst for Peace
Countless of our brothers and sisters, he said, continue to “thirst for peace.”
Alongside political and civil leaders, who are responsible for promoting peace everywhere, today and in the future, religions are called, by prayer and by humble, concrete and constructive efforts, to respond to this thirst, to identify and, together with all men and women of good will, to pave tirelessly new paths of peace.
At this present moment of history, Pope Francis reminded that religious leaders have a special responsibility “to be and to live as people of peace, bearing insistent witness that God detests war, that war is never holy, and that violence can never be perpetrated or justified in the name of God.”
We are called to trouble consciences, to spread hope, to encourage and support peacemakers everywhere, Francis said.
We cannot and must not remain indifferent, the Pontiff said, “allowing tragedies of hatred to pass unnoticed, and men and women to be cast aside for the sake of power and profit.”
Must Never Grow Accustomed, Indifferent
“We must never grow accustomed or indifferent to evil,” the Pope said.
Confronted with the question ‘What can be done to respond to such growing evil?’, Francis said their meeting represents a response to peace with ‘all standing beside each other,’ rather than ‘some against others.’
Religions, the Pope reminded, “cannot desire anything less than peace.”
The Holy Father concluded, praying ‘May your presence in Germany be a sign and a summons for Europe to cultivate peace.’
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