Pope Francis: “Peace is a Gift, a Challenge and a Commitment”

Speaking in the Apostolic Palace to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See during the traditional exchange of New Year’s greetings with the diplomats, Pope Francis said, “One can never kill in God’s name”. He added that the world is “dealing with a homicidal madness which misuses God’s name in order to disseminate death, in a play for domination and power.”

Fundamentalist terrorism is the fruit of a profound spiritual poverty and is often linked to significant social poverty. It can only be fully defeated with the joint contribution of religious and political leaders,” the Pope said.

Moreover, the Pontiff touched on a variety of other issues, but said that he would be devoting the meeting to the themes of security and peace. “In today’s climate of general apprehension for the present, and uncertainty and anxious concern for the future, I feel it is important to speak a word of hope, which can also indicate a path on which to embark”.

The Holy Father pointed out some of the areas where conflict is affecting peoples lives. “I think particularly of the fundamentalist-inspired terrorism that in the past year has also reaped numerous victims throughout the world: in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, the United States of America, Tunisia and Turkey”, he said. “These are vile acts that use children to kill, as in Nigeria, or target people at prayer, as in the Coptic Cathedral of Cairo, or travelers or workers, as in Brussels, or passers-by in the streets of cities like Nice and Berlin, or simply people celebrating the arrival of the new year, as in Istanbul”, he continued.

The Pope called on the international community to work for peace and security. Political authorities, Francis stated, “must not limit themselves to ensuring the security of their own citizens – a concept which could easily be reduced to a mere “quiet life” – but are called also to work actively for the growth of peace”. This also means that “working for the elimination of the deplorable arms trade and the never-ending race to create and spread ever more sophisticated weaponry.” Disturbingly, he said, are the experiments being conducted on the Korean Peninsula, “which destabilize the entire region and raise troubling questions for the entire international community about the risk of a new nuclear arms race”.

He went on to quote his predecessor Saint Pope John XXIII’s words in Pacem in Terris: “Justice, right reason and the recognition of human dignity cry out insistently for a cessation to the arms race.  The stockpiles of armaments which have been built up in various countries must be reduced all round by the parties concerned.  Nuclear weapons must be banned”.
Moreover, Francis spoke on their responsibility to young people, stressing that “Children and young people are the future; it is for them that we work and build. They cannot be selfishly overlooked or forgotten.”

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