ROME — Pope Francis warned of dangers to world peace Monday, highlighting poverty, nationalism, and “unbridled greed.”
In our time, world peace is “threatened by forms of particularism and nationalism, driven by selfish interests and unbridled greed,” the pontiff told a delegation from B’nai B’rith International, a nonprofit Jewish organization. “This increases the risk, in the end, of even greater contempt for human dignity and rights.”
Dangerous forms of “extremism” also jeopardize the security of people in our world today, Francis said.
The greatest risk factor for such extremism is “represented by material, educational and spiritual poverty, which then becomes fertile terrain for fueling hatred, anger, frustration and radicalism,” he asserted.
“The antidote to this escalation of evil is remembrance: remembrance of the past, remembrance of its wars, remembrance of the Shoah and of countless other atrocities,” he said, using the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.
The most concrete way to promote greater human fraternity is by helping “the lowly, the poor, the sick,” he said, since persons in need “have a right to receive help and solidarity from the larger community.”
“If the duty to care for others is incumbent upon every member of our human family, it applies even more to those of us who are Jews and Christians,” he declared, since helping the needy means respecting the will of God, who “protects the stranger and upholds the orphan and the widow.”
“We cannot take the Lord’s dream of a world filled with brothers and sisters, and replace it with a world of only children, marked by violence and indifference,” the pope continued.
The measure of our fidelity to who we are, to our common humanity, is “our fraternity” and “our concern for others,” he said.
“We cannot be fully ourselves without watching out for our brothers and sisters. We cannot find the Eternal One without welcoming our neighbor,” he added.
There is an illusion “that disputes can be resolved by violence and war,” Francis said. “Yet violence always generates more violence, weapons only produce death, and war is never the solution but a problem, a failure.”
The pope also said that he has always been interested in Jewish-Catholic relations because he had Jewish friends as a boy.
“Even before I became Pope, the promotion and deepening of Jewish-Catholic dialogue was something close to my heart – as a boy at school I had Jewish friends – , for it is a dialogue made up of encounter and concrete gestures of fraternity,” he said.