Pope Francis called for "eradicating borders that divide and create opposition" and reflected on the message of "peace with no borders." His message was part of this year's "Prayer for Peace" meeting., which was attended by top-level delegates in Madrid in recent days.
Pope Francis brought a message of acceptance and tolerance to participants of the 33rd "Prayer for Peace" meeting, taking place September 15 - 17 in Madrid, Spain. The pontiff reflected on the meaning of the theme of this year's meeting: "Peace Without Borders," stressing that the world needed "peace and brotherhood."
"It's foolish, from the perspective of the good of people and the world, to close spaces, separate people, even pitting them against each other, denying hospitality to those who need it and to their families," Pope Francis said. "This breaks the world into pieces, using the same violence with which the environment gets ruined and our common home gets damaged.
"The time that we are now living in is a serious moment for the world. We all have to draw together with one heart and one voice to proclaim that peace is without borders," Pope Francis told delegates at the "Prayer for Peace" meeting. "It's there, in fact, from the heart that the borders that divide and create opposition must be eradicated."
Open doors — not walls
In his speech, Francis reflected on the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago, when Europe embarked upon a new process of peace. The Pontiff referred to the biblical story of Jericho, which he said reminded the faithful that "walls fall when they are 'besieged' with prayer and not with weapons, with longings for peace and not conquest, when one dreams of a good future for all." The pope, however, added that "in these first two decades of the 21st century, we have unfortunately witnessed with great sadness the wasting of God's gift of peace, broken down with new wars and the building of new walls and new barriers."
Rather than "walls that separate," continued Pope Francis, people needed "open doors that help to communicate, to meet, to cooperate in order to live together in peace, respecting diversity and tightening bonds of responsibility."
Interfaith dialogue for world peace
He also made reference to the "Document on Human Fraternity" as "an important step on the path to world peace," which he had signed earlier in the year together with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, considered by some Muslims to be the highest authority in Sunni Islam. "We affirmed that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood," Francis said.
The 33rd Prayer for Peace meeting kicked off last Sunday at Madrid's Palacio Municipal de Congresos. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and US economist Jeffrey Sachs were among those in attendance in addition to a number of interfaith delegates from around the world.
Organised by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the prayer for Peace Meeting was founded in 1987.