This is Pope Francis’ address at the Invocation for Peace that took place in the night of Pentecost Sunday, June 8, in the Vatican Gardens.
I GREET you with immense joy and I wish to offer you, and the eminent delegations accompanying you, the same warm welcome which you gave to me during my recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
I am profoundly grateful to you for accepting my invitation to come here and to join in imploring from God the gift of peace.
It is my hope that this meeting will mark the beginning of a new journey where we seek the things that unite, so as to overcome the things that divide.
I also thank Your Holiness, my venerable Brother Bartholomaios, for joining me in welcoming these illustrious guests.
Your presence here is a great gift, a much-appreciated sign of support, and a testimony to the pilgrimage, which we Christians are making towards full unity.
Your presence, dear Presidents, is a great sign of brotherhood, which you offer as children of Abraham.
It is also a concrete expression of trust in God, the Lord of history, who today looks upon all of us as brothers and who desires to guide us in his ways.
This meeting of prayer for peace in the Holy Land, in the Middle East and in the entire world is accompanied by the prayers of countless people of different cultures, nations, languages and religions: they have prayed for this meeting and even now they are united with us in the same supplication.
It is a meeting, which responds to the fervent desire of all who long for peace and dream of a world in which men and women can live as brothers and sisters and no longer as adversaries and enemies.
Dear Presidents, our world is a legacy bequeathed to us from past generations, but it is also on loan to us from our children: our children who are weary, worn out by conflicts and yearning for the dawn of peace, our children who plead with us to tear down the walls of enmity and to set out on the path of dialogue and peace, so that love and friendship will prevail.
Many, all too many, of those children have been innocent victims of war and violence, saplings cut down at the height of their promise.
It is our duty to ensure that their sacrifice is not in vain.
The memory of these children instills in us the courage of peace, the strength to persevere undaunted in dialogue, the patience to weave, day by day, an ever more robust fabric of respectful and peaceful co-existence, for the glory of God and the good of all.
Peacemaking calls for courage, much more so than warfare.
It calls for the courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict: yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiations and no to hostilities; yes to respect for agreements and no to acts of provocation; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity. All of this takes courage, it takes strength and tenacity.
To him, the Father, in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, I now turn, begging the intercession of the Virgin Mary, a daughter of the Holy Land and our Mother.
Lord God of peace, hear our prayer.
We have tried so many times and over so many years to resolve our conflicts by our own powers and by the force of our arms.
Instill in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace.
Keep alive within us the flame of hope, so that with patience and perseverance we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. In this way may peace triumph at last, and may the words “division”, “hatred” and “war” be banished from the heart of every man and woman.
Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands.
Renew our hearts and minds, so that the word which always brings us together will be “brother”, and our way of life will always be that of: Shalom, Peace, Salaam. Amen.