Pope Francis and religious leaders from around the world signed an “An Appeal for Peace” during the occasion of the International Prayer Meeting for Peace in Rome on October 20.
“We appeal to government leaders to reject the language of division, often based on fear and mistrust, and to avoid embarking on paths of no return,” said the pontiff during the event.
“We need peace. More peace. We cannot remain indifferent. Today the world has a profound thirst for peace,” said Pope Francis.
He noted that in many countries, “people are suffering due to wars which, though often forgotten, are always the cause of suffering and poverty.”
“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,” he said.
“God will ask an accounting of those who failed to seek peace, or who fomented tensions and conflicts, added the pope.
Representatives of the world’s major religions who joined Pope Francis in Campidoglio Square also delivered their messages and signed a scroll containing the “Appeal for Peace.”
In his speech, Mohamed Abdelsalam of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, condemned the recent beheading of a Paris school teacher in an Islamist terror attack.
“On this Capitoline Hill, in the wake of the greatest conflict in history, the nations that had been at war made a pact based on a dream of unity that later came true: the dream of a united Europe,” read the “Appeal for Peace.”
“Today, in these uncertain times, as we feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that threatens peace by aggravating inequalities and fear, we firmly state that no one can be saved alone: no people, no single individual,” it added.
Those who attended the event lit candles and prayed for peace in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Somalia, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen, and the Holy Land.
Prayer candles were also lit for an end to violence throughout Central America, the persecution of Christians in Burkina Faso, attacks in northern Mozambique, violence in Venezuela, the conflict in Mali, the violence perpetrated by the drug gangs in Mexico, and instability in Lebanon.
They also prayed for an end to tensions in Belarus, on the Korean peninsula, in the Caucasus region, and between India and Pakistan, as well as for the peace agreements signed in Colombia and South Sudan.
The theme of the event, organized by the Sant’Egidio lay Catholic community, was “No one is saved alone,” a phrase that comes from Pope Francis’ encyclical “Fratelli tutti.”
The Community of Sant’Egidio said that the event was inspired by the first World Day of Prayer for Peace, organized by St. John Paul II in 1986 in Assisi with 160 other religious leaders.