(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to the three day International Prayer Meeting for Peace, promoted by the St Egidio Community, which is underway in Antwerp in Belgium saying that, “war is never a necessity, nor is it inevitable.”
Listen to this report by Lydia O’Kane.
Inspired by the first Assisi ecumenical meeting in 1986 under the Pontificate of Saint Pope John Paul II the International Prayer Meeting for Peace aims to reaffirm the spirit of that first encounter.
This year is especially significant as the event is marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War under the theme “Peace is the Future.”
Recalling the that grim period in history, Pope Francis in a message to this 28th meeting says that “this anniversary can teach us that war is never a satisfactory means of redressing injustice and achieving balanced solutions to political and social discord.”
He describes how this Antwerp gathering with all the various religious traditions participating, can make a real contribution to peace, adding, it is his hope that” these days of prayer and dialogue will serve as a powerful reminder that the pursuit of peace and understanding through prayer can forge lasting bonds of unity and prevail over the passions of war.” The Pope then underlines that, “war is never a necessity, nor is it inevitable.”
The Holy Father goes on to stress that dialogue and encounter are the way forward in the pursuit of peace and says that the time has come for religious leaders to cooperate more effectively in the work of healing wounds and resolving conflicts.
Peace, the Pope notes, is the sure sign of a commitment to the cause of God and he invites not just religious leaders but men and women of goodwill to be peacemakers, urging them to make their communities schools of respect and dialogue with those of other ethnic or religious groups.
They need to be places, he says, “where we learn to overcome tensions, foster just and peaceful relations between peoples and social groups, and build a better future for coming generations.”