Happening now (11:34 a.m. U.S. West Coast): Vatican City - Pope Francis has concluded his remarks at the vigil in St. Peter’s Square for peace in Syria and throughout the world.
Before a crowd in St. Peter’s Square estimated at 100,000 gathered to pray for peace in Syria, Pope Francis today forcefully declared that “violence and war are never the way to peace!”
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“How many conflicts, how many wars have marked our history!” Francis said today.
“Even today we continue this history of conflict between brothers, even today we raise our hands against our brother. Even today, we let ourselves be guided by idols, by selfishness, by our own interests, and this attitude persists.”
“We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves,” the pope said. “As if it were normal, we continue to sow destruction, pain, death! Violence and war lead only to death, they speak of death! Violence and war are the language of death!”
The pope argued that the Cross of Christ is the ultimate refutation of violence as a solution to humanity’s problems.
“How I wish that all men and women of good will would look to the Cross if only for a moment!” he said. “There, we can see God’s reply: violence is not answered with violence, death is not answered with the language of death.”
Francis argued that peace “is possible for everyone,” evoking applause from the crowd.
The only specific mention of Syria came at the end of Francis’ remarks.
“Forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation – these are the words of peace, in beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world!” he said.