(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message to the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace, set to take place this week in Münster and Osnabrück, Germany. The meeting is sponsored by the Sant’Egidio Community.
In a Letter read at the event’s Opening Ceremony on Sunday, Pope Francis notes that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the “process of peace and dialogue initiated by St John Paul II in Assisi in 1986.” This process remains “timely and necessary,” he said, as “countless of our brothers and sisters continue to ‘thirst for peace’.”
Referring to the Meeting’s theme – “Paths of Peace” – Pope Francis said, “Our path to peace is not that of those who profane God’s name by spreading hatred; it has nothing to do with the bane of war, the folly of terrorism or the illusory force of arms.” Rather, “Making space for peace calls for humility and courage, tenacity and perseverance; more than anything else, it demands prayer, since . . . . prayer is the taproot of peace.” This involves a special duty for religious leaders, who are called “to be and to live as people of peace.”
Pope Francis warned especially against the danger of remaining indifferent to the suffering of so many people throughout the world. In order to find new paths to peace, he said, “the first step is to feel the pain of others, to make it our own, neither overlooking it or becoming inured to it.”
Once again he noted the importance of religions in finding new paths of peace. “The religions cannot desire anything less than peace,” the Pope said. He also noted the significance of meeting in Germany, in the heart of Europe, where peace has been “at the heart” of reconstruction following two World Wars and the “terrible tragedy of the Shoah.”
Concluding his message, Pope Francis said, “Together let us continue to forge new paths of peace, lighting candles of peace amid the darkness of hatred.”