Before joining other religious leaders on 25 October to launch an appeal for peace, Pope Francis presided over an ecumenical service with Christian leaders gathered at the Colosseum in Rome. The Holy Father was joined among others by His Holiness Mar Awa III, Catholicos‒Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East; the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon; Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Dionysius Jean Kawak; Lutheran Archbishop Tapio Luoma of Turku; Archbishop Ian Ernest, the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome; Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Representative of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Western Europe; Bishop Barnaba, Representative in Rome for the Coptic Orthodox Church; and Reverend Christian Krieger, President of the Conference of European Churches. During the ecumenical prayer service, His Holiness Mar Awa III delivered a meditation.
Following the ecumenical service, Pope Francis addressed all the religious and civil leaders participating in the closing ceremony of the “Cry for Peace” conference organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio from 23‒25 October. The event concluded the 36th annual “Spirit of Assisi” event initiated in the wake of the historic World Day of Interreligious Prayer for Peace of 27 October 1986 presided over by Pope Saint John Paul II.
In his address, the Holy Father reflected, “The plea for peace cannot be suppressed: it rises from the hearts of mothers; it is deeply etched on the faces of refugees, displaced families, the wounded and the dying … And this silent plea rises up to heaven. It has no magic formulas for ending conflict, but it does have the sacred right to implore peace in the name of all those who suffer, and it deserves to be heard.”
Pope Francis recalled that a year ago, and also in the Colosseum, together with other Christian and world religious leaders an appeal for peace was launched which is all the more timely today: “Religions cannot be used for war. Only peace is holy and no one is to use the name of God to bless terror and violence”.
The Holy Father concluded his address by calling to mind Pope Saint John XXIII, quoting his words, “May all peoples come together as brothers and sisters, and may the peace they so deeply desire ever flourish and reign in their midst” (Pacem in Terris, 171).
Photos © Vatican Media