Pope Francis affirmed the signal importance of peace at an interreligious gathering Tuesday on Rome’s Capitoline Hill.
“We need peace. More peace. We cannot remain indifferent. Today the world has a profound thirst for peace. In many countries, people are suffering due to wars which, though often forgotten, are always the cause of suffering and poverty,” Pope Francis said Oct. 20.
“To put an end to war is a solemn duty before God incumbent on all those holding political responsibilities. Peace is the priority of all politics. God will ask an accounting of those who failed to seek peace, or who fomented tensions and conflicts. He will call them to account for all the days, months and years of war endured by the world’s peoples,” the pope said.
Pope Francis was joined by representatives of the world’s major religions in his appeal for peace in the Campidoglio Square, designed by Michelangelo. The Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, and Buddhist representatives each gave speeches, lit a candle in a candelabrum, and signed a scroll containing an “Appeal for Peace.”
Immediately before this interreligious meeting, the pope prayed with other Christian leaders in the neighboring Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli on the Capitoline Hill.
“From the cross forgiveness poured forth and fraternal love was reborn: the cross makes us brothers and sisters,” Pope Francis said in his message at the ecumenical prayer service.
“The closer we become to the Lord Jesus, the more we will be open and ‘universal,’ since we will feel responsible for others. And others will become the means of our own salvation: all others, every human person, whatever his or her history and beliefs. Beginning with the poor, who are those most like Jesus,” the pope said.