No war is holy, pope says at interreligious peace gathering

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

Italy (CNS) — Violence in the name of God does not represent the true nature
of religion and must be condemned by all faiths, Pope Francis said.

never tire of repeating that the name of God cannot be used to justify
violence. Peace alone, and not war, is holy!” the pope said Sept. 20 at the
closing ceremony of an interreligious peace gathering in Assisi.

Following a
prayer service with Christian leaders, including Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch
Bartholomew of Constantinople and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury,
the pope joined religious leaders from around the world to appeal for peace and

religious leaders also heard the experience of a victim of war from the Syrian
city of Aleppo and prayed for those who had died in conflicts around the world.

In his
speech, the pope called on believers of every faith “to confront the great
sickness of our time: indifference.”

“It is
a virus that paralyzes, rendering us lethargic and insensitive, a disease that
eats away at the very heart of religious fervor, giving rise to a new and
deeply sad paganism: the paganism of indifference,” he said.

Recalling the
look on the faces of the refugees he and Patriarch Bartholomew met on the Greek
island of Lesbos in April, the pope called on religious believers to not remain
indifferent to the suffering of others but instead to be the voice of those

“I am
thinking of the families, whose lives have been shattered; of the children who
have known only violence in their lives; of the elderly, forced to leave their
homeland. All of them have a great thirst for peace,” he said. “We do
not want these tragedies to be forgotten.”

True peace,
he said, is not a result of “negotiations, political compromises or
economic bargaining, but the result of prayer.”

A peace
“that is not illusory,” the pope said, must be accomplished through
concrete actions of assistance to those in need and cannot be achieved with
“the ‘virtual’ approach of one who judges everything and everyone using a
computer keyboard, without opening his eyes to the needs of his brothers and
sisters, and dirtying his hands for those in need.”

continuing the legacy of the 1986 peace gathering St. John Paul II held in
Assisi, faith leaders must join together in denouncing the use of religion to
justify violence.

in all its forms does not represent the true nature of religion. It is the
antithesis of religion and contributes to its destruction,” the pope said.

Francis called on religious leaders to “free ourselves from the heavy
burden of distrust, fundamentalism and hate” and instead be “artisans
of peace” through prayer and action.

religious leaders, he said, “we are duty bound to be strong bridges of
dialogue, creative mediators of peace.”

us assume this responsibility, reaffirming today our ‘yes’ to being, together,
builders of the peace that God wishes for us and for which humanity
thirsts,” the pope said.

– – –

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Original Article