Pope Francis participated in an ecumenical prayer service which was followed by an interreligious Meeting for Peace together with leaders of the world’s major religions in Rome. The event, entitled “No one is saved alone. Peace and Fraternity” was organised by the Community of Saint Egidio.
An ecumenical prayer service in Rome’s Basilica of Saint Mary in Aracoeli saw the Pope praying side by side with leaders of other Christian traditions.
Simultaneously, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists prayed in other city venues before coming together in Michelangelo’s’ beautiful Square on the Capitoline Hill for an interreligious ceremony that ended with the proclamation and delivery of the 2020 Appeal for Peace and the lighting of a peace candle.
A minute of silence was observed to remember the victims of wars and of the coronavirus pandemic, and a group of children delivered the appeal to ambassadors and to international political leaders reminding them that “no one is saved alone.”
Pope Francis set the tone of his speech during the International Meeting for Peace on Tuesday by recalling the historic Assisi Meeting desired by Saint Pope John Paul II on 27 October 1986, in which for the first time in Church history the Pope invited leaders of other religions to join him in prayer for peace for the human family.
That meeting, he said, contained a prophetic seed “that by God’s grace has gradually matured through unprecedented encounters, acts of peacemaking and fresh initiatives of fraternity.”
He noted that since that Meeting many painful events have taken place, at times in the name of religion, but that we also acknowledge the fruitful steps undertaken since then in interreligious dialogue.
“This is a sign of hope that encourages us to continue cooperating as brothers and sisters,” he said, recalling the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, which he signed with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, in 2019.
Pope Francis also referred to his just-released encyclical, Fratelli tutti, in which he reiterates that “the commandment of peace is inscribed in the depths of the religious traditions.”
Religions at the service of peace and fraternity
This gathering, the Pope said, is an encouragement “to religious leaders and to all believers to pray fervently for peace, never resigned to war, but working with the gentle strength of faith to end conflicts.”
We can only be saved together
Pope Francis said the dream of all men and women of goodwill is for a world rid of every war. But how do we go about, he asked, achieving this dream?
“No people, no social group, can single-handedly achieve peace, prosperity, security and happiness,” he said, noting that the lesson learned from the coronavirus pandemic is “the awareness that we are a global community, all in the same boat, where one person’s problems are the problems of all.”
“Once more we realised that no one is saved alone; we can only be saved together.” (cf. Fratelli tutti, 32).
All of us, the Pope said, peoples, communities, government leaders and international organisations must realise that we are a single human family and that “we can only be saved together through encounter and negotiation, setting aside our conflicts and pursuing reconciliation, moderating the language of politics and propaganda, and developing true paths of peace (cf. Fratelli tutti, 231).
Pope Francis concluded his speech noting that all the persons of different religious traditions, gathered together at the Capitoline Hill, are sending a message of peace: “To show clearly that the religions do not want war and, indeed, disown those who would enshrine violence.”
And asking everyone to pray for reconciliation and to strive to enable fraternity to pave new paths of hope, he expressed his firm belief that “With God’s help, it will be possible to build a world of peace, and thus to be saved together.”
Read the Appeal for Peace, co-signed by Pope Francis, in full below:
The 2020 Appeal for Peace
Piazza del Campidoglio
Gathered in Rome, in “the spirit of Assisi”, and spiritually united to believers worldwide and to all men and women of good will, we have prayed alongside one another to invoke upon our world the gift of peace. We have called to mind the wounds of humanity, we are united with the silent prayers of so many of our suffering brothers and sisters, all too often nameless and unheard. We now solemnly commit ourselves to make our own and to propose to the leaders of nations and the citizens of the world this Appeal for Peace.
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. 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!
Wars and peace, pandemics and health care, hunger and access to food, global warming and sustainable development, the displacement of populations, the elimination of nuclear threats and the reduction of inequalities: these are not matters that concern individual nations alone. We understand this better nowadays, in a world that is amply connected, yet often lacks a sense of fraternity. All of us are brothers and sisters! Let us pray to the Most High that, after this time of trial, there may no longer be “others”, but rather, a great “we”, rich in diversity. The time has come to boldly dream anew that peace is possible, that it is necessary, that a world without war is not utopian. This is why we want to say once more: “No more war”!
Tragically, for many, war once again seems to be one possible means of resolving international disputes. It is not. Before it is too late, we would remind everyone that war always leaves the world worse than it was. War is a failure of politics and of humanity.
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. Together let us look at the victims. All too many conflicts are presently in course.
To leaders of nations we say: let us work together to create a new architecture of peace. Let us join forces to promote life, health, education and peace. The time has come to divert the resources employed in producing ever more destructive and deadly weapons to choosing life and to caring for humanity and our common home. Let us waste no time! Let us start with achievable goals: may we immediately unite our efforts to contain the spread of the virus until there is a vaccine that is suitable and available to all. The pandemic is reminding us that we are blood brothers and sisters.
To all believers, and to men and women of good will, we say: let us become creative artisans of peace, let us build social friendship, let us make our own the culture of dialogue. Honest, persistent and courageous dialogue is the antidote to distrust, division and violence. Dialogue dismantles at the outset the arguments for wars that destroy the fraternity to which our human family is called.
No one can feel exempted from this. All of us have a shared responsibility. All of us need to forgive and to be forgiven. The injustices of the world and of history are not healed by hatred and revenge, but by dialogue and forgiveness.
May God inspire in us a commitment to these ideals and to the journey that we are making together. May he touch every heart and make us heralds of peace.
Rome, Capitoline Hill, 20 October 2020
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