ROME — The world needs leaders who are humble and willing to talk with their enemies with the aim of leading their countries toward peace, Pope Francis said.
“Those politicians who do not know how to dialogue and confront each other are not leaders of peace,” he told residents and supporters of Rondine-Citadel of Peace, a peace and reconciliation project based near Arezzo in central Italy.
“Leaders who do not make an effort to go meet the ‘enemy,’ to sit with them at the table and do what you do, they cannot lead their people to peace. To do this requires humility and not arrogance,” he told the group of young people at the Vatican Dec. 3.
The Rondine project hosts young people from nations that have experienced or still experience war and conflict; the young people live, study and work together, discovering their “enemy” is a human being like them, according to the organization’s website. The two-year program aims to give students the tools to be creative, active leaders even in complex, high-conflict situations.
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, representatives of Rondine were to address all 193 member-states of the United Nations Dec. 10 in New York to ask that every government redirect a small sum from its defense budget and put it toward training new global leaders who can intervene wherever there are major conflicts.
Francis, who was told about the appeal, praised the initiative and said he will support the effort and ask all heads of state and government to do the same.
“May your voice — frail, but strong in youthful hope and courage — be heard Dec. 10 at the United Nations. Leaders with a new mentality are needed,” he said.
“Peace, in fact, is the responsibility of everyone,” Francis said.
“With everyone’s efforts we must finally eliminate war from the planet and from the narrative of humanity,” he added.