Peace remains an urgent task in today’s world, where so many peoples are scarred by war and conflict, Pope Francis said on Wednesday in a meeting with the World Conference of Religions for Peace.
“Peace is both a divine gift and a human achievement,” the pope said. “This is why believers of all religions are called to implore peace and to intercede for it.”
The organization was inaugurated in 1970, with a World Conference on Religion and Peace in Kyoto, Japan. Since then, it has held an international assembly of religious leaders every 5-6 years.
In 1994, Pope St. John Paul opened the 6th World Assembly in the Vatican, where he said interreligious dialogue “helps us to understand one another as religious men and women, and enables us to respect our differences, without abstaining from affirming clearly and unequivocally what we believe to be the true way to salvation.”
In his meeting on Wednesday morning, Francis also expressed his appreciation for the work of the organization, telling the delegation that religions are bound by their very nature to promote peace through justice, fraternity, disarmament and care for creation.
Francis said religions “have a specific and unique role to play” in promoting peace, noting “their spiritual and moral resources.”
“All men and women of good will, particularly those in positions of responsibility, are summoned to work for peace with their hearts, minds and hands. For peace has to be ‘crafted.’ In this effort, peacemaking and the pursuit of justice go together,” Francis said.
The pontiff added religions cannot be neutral – “much less ambiguous” – where peace is concerned.
“Those who engage in acts of violence, or try to justify them in the name of religion, gravely offend God, who is peace and the source of peace, and has left in human beings a reflection of his wisdom, power and beauty,” the pope said.
Francis also pointed to a need for “a common and cooperative effort” on the religious front to promote integral ecology and care for creation.
“Thanks be to God, in various parts of the world we have any number of good examples of the power of interreligious cooperation to oppose violent conflicts, to advance sustainable development and to protect the earth,” the pope said.