An annual World Day of Prayer event is held in the medieval town of Assisi in central Italy, to combat the persecution of peoples for their faiths and extremism ‘dressed up’ as religion.
Pope Francis has insisted that violence committed in the name of religion has nothing to do with God. During a trip to Poland in August he said “the world is at war,” but driven by greed for “interests, money, resources, not religion”.
During a private visit, he met faith leaders and victims of war to discuss growing religious fanaticism and escalating violence around the world.
The Times of Israel reported that he said there is no God of war and called on “all men and women of good will, of any religion, to pray for peace.”
The pope reminded the West that while it had suffered a string of deadly jihadist attacks, there were parts of the world where cities were being flattened by fighting, prisoners were tortured and families were starved to death:
“We are frightened… by some terrorist acts but this is nothing compared to what is happening in those countries, in those lands where day and night bombs fall,” he said at a morning mass at the Vatican: “As we pray today, it would be good if we all felt shame, shame that humans, our brothers and sisters, are capable of doing this.”
In the Piazza of Saint Francis, Assisi, Radio Vatican broadcast his appeal for peace: “Let us urge leaders of nations to defuse the causes of war: the lust for power and money, the greed of arms’ dealers, personal interests and vendettas for past wrongs. We need a greater commitment to eradicating the underlying causes of conflicts: poverty, injustice and inequality, the exploitation of and contempt for human life”.