On the World Day of Prayer for Peace, yesterday, Pope Francis participated in an interfaith event calling for an end to human suffering. It was reported by Crux:
Surrounded by leaders of the world’s major religions, including Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, followers of traditional faiths and even atheists, as well as survivors of war and migrants, Pope Francis declared Tuesday that the “great sickness” of our time is “indifference” to human suffering.
The pontiff was in the birthplace of St. Francis, his namesake, for an interfaith summit marking the 30th anniversary of an historic assembly of religious leaders convened by St. Pope John Paul II at the height of the Cold War.
Joining fellow Christian leaders in prayer, Francis said that millions around the globe today are victims of war and are pleading for peace, often receiving nothing but the “bitter vinegar of rejection,” their cries silenced “with the same ease with which television channels are changed.”
Francis said the solutions are not found in political or economic systems…
“We do not have weapons,” Francis said of the religious leaders. “We believe, however, in the meek and humble strength of prayer.”
The pontiff suggested that “thirst for peace” became a prayer to God on Tuesday in Assisi, so that “wars, terrorism and violence may end.”
That peace is neither a protest against conflict nor, as St. John Paul II said back in 1986, in the first of these interreligious gatherings, is it “a result of negotiations, political compromises or economic bargaining. It is the result of prayer.”
…but must begin with the individual and in relationship:
And believers, regardless of their faith, are called to be “artisans of peace.”
According to Francis, peace means forgiveness; welcome and openness to dialogue; cooperation, and education, which he described as a call to learn “the challenging art of communion.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was one of several faith leaders present with the Pope following private meetings with him, along with Bartholomew I of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II of Antioch, Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church.
Calling Jesus’s cross the “tree of life” with which “evil was transformed into good,” the pontiff said that Christians too are called to be trees of life that “absorb the contamination of indifference and restore the pure air of love to the world.”
He and Archbishop Welby spoke about those impacted by war and slavery:
“Who listens to them? Who bothers responding to them? Far too often they encounter the deafening silence of indifference, the selfishness of those annoyed at being pestered, the coldness of those who silence their cry for help with the same ease with which television channels are changed,” he said.
The first one to speak during the ecumenical prayer was Welby, who regretted that the “greatest wealth in European history has ended in the tragedies of death and slavery.”