ROME — Pope Francis requested prayers Friday, or at least “good vibes” from those who do not know how to pray or do not believe in God.
“I ask you not to forget to pray for me,” the pontiff urged members of the French organization Leaders pour la Paix. “And if someone does not pray because he does not know how or cannot, at least send me ‘good vibes.’ I need them for this work!”
In Saturday’s address, the pope focused on overcoming war and working for peace, insisting that trying to resolve conflicts with weapons is “a sign of weakness and fragility,” whereas negotiation, mediation, and conciliation all “take courage.”
The pope also had sharp words for the usual “collateral damage” of war, calling its effects on the population “international crimes.”
“We cannot forget that the sacrifice of human lives, the suffering of the population, the indiscriminate destruction of civil structures, the violation of the principle of humanity are not ‘side effects’ of war, no, they are international crimes,” he contended. “We must say this and repeat it.”
He praised the work of Leaders pour la Paix, which he called an “itinerant school of peace,” urging its members to redouble their efforts as peacemakers.
“We have realized that the human family, threatened by war, runs a more serious danger: the lack of will to build peace,” he asserted. “Your experience teaches you that, in the face of war, silencing weapons is the first step to take, but then it will be necessary to rebuild the present and the future of coexistence, institutions, structures and services.”
Building peace “requires us to be creative, to overcome, if necessary, the usual patterns of international relations,” he said, “and at the same time to oppose those who entrust to war the task of resolving disputes between States and in States, or even think of creating by force the conditions of justice necessary for coexistence among peoples.”
Being peacemakers also means “initiating and supporting development processes to eliminate poverty, defeat hunger, guarantee health and care, protect our common home, promote fundamental rights and overcome the discrimination caused by human mobility,” he said.