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Rome Reports

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Pope at interreligious meeting: Religions do not want war

The Community of Sant'Egidio in Rome hosted this international encounter to pray for world peace. The theme was “No one saves himself alone. Peace and Fraternity.” Simultaneous prayer services led by different religious groups took place in various worship sites in the Eternal City: the Jews in the Synagogue and Muslims and Buddhists in the Capitoline Museums.

Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, entered the Basilica of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli side by side, followed by Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, President of the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany.

After the Gospel reading, Pope Francis reflected on the Lord’s Passion, noting that even Jesus, as Christians today, was tempted to selfishly save only Himself from the suffering of the Cross.

“It is a very human instinct, but wrong. It was the final temptation of the crucified God.”

After a moment of silence, Patriarch Bartholomew led the prayer intentions.

“We turn our eyes and heart to God, while we remember all the countries and regions of the world wounded by violence, war and terrorism.”

As each intention for peace was read, a candle was lit in front of the altar.

“For reconciliation in Burundi.”

After saying the Lord's Prayer, Patriarch Bartholomew, Anglican Archbishop Ian Ernest and Pope Francis gave a joint blessing to conclude the service, and made their way to the Piazza del Campidoglio. 

There, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew were greeted by the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella and the mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi. They also greeted the Buddhist, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Muslim representatives present, who each shared a few words.

Patriarch Bartholomew got some laughs as he prepared to deliver his speech.

“I'm waiting for my script.”

Pope Francis reminded religious leaders and all believers of their responsibility to pray insistently for an end to conflict and to never accept war.

“Those who wield the sword, possibly in the belief that it will resolve difficult situations quickly, will know in their own lives, the lives of their loved ones and the lives of their countries, the death brought by the sword.”

He then highlighted that religions are at the service of peace and fraternity.

“We have gathered this evening, as persons of different religious traditions, in order to send a message of peace. To show clearly that the religions do not want war and, indeed, disown those who would enshrine violence. ”

After the pope's address, a minute of silence was observed for victims of the coronavirus pandemic and all wars.

The meeting concluded with a joint appeal to global leaders to build social friendship and adopt a culture of dialogue in order to face the challenges of today. Each religious leader present signed the document.

Claudia Torres - Javier Romero