Pope Francis participated in an interreligious gathering at Ground Zero in New York. After arriving, he spent a few minutes with families of victims of 9/11. Accompanying Pope Francis were former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
The prayer was held here, have at the Memorial's foundation hall, facing the wall that contained the Hudson River when the Twin Towers collapsed.
Participants from 12 religions joined the Pope. Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and others all called for peace. Before the Pope spoke, a Jewish rabbi said a prayer for the dead.
In his speech, the Pope explained that the memorial is a place to remember that violence only causes suffering and pain. It also creates innocent victims, with names and faces, because the powerful cannot find solutions to live together.
Although he was at a place of great pain and suffering, the Pope spoke about the better aspects of humanity.
"Here, amid pain and grief, we also have a palpable sense of the heroic goodness which people are capable of, those hidden reserves of strength from which we can draw. In the depths of pain and suffering, you also witnessed the heights of generosity and service. Hands reached out, lives were given.”
He recalled, for example, the heroic actions of New York City firefighters, who entered the towers as they were burning. He said that attitudes like that show the triumph of good over evil.
"This place of death became a place of life too, a place of saved lives, a hymn to the triumph of life over the prophets of destruction and death, to goodness over evil, to reconciliation and unity over hatred and division.”
Religions, despite their differences, can do much to achieve peace, the Pope explained. They need to work together.
"For all our differences and disagreements, we can live in a world of peace. In opposing every attempt to create a rigid uniformity, we can and must build unity on the basis of our diversity of languages, cultures and religions, and lift our voices against everything which would stand in the way of such unity.”
To achieve reconciliation, the Pope explained, it's necessary to reject hate. He insisted that peace can reach every corner of the world. He lead a silent prayer.
After the participants exchanged a gesture of peace the Pope concluded his visit to the Memorial at Ground Zero with a tour of the museum that recalls the tragedy.