Pope: Peace is built with listening, not weapons
By Joseph Tulloch
Pope Francis has sent a message to the 6th Paris Peace Forum, saying that peace “is built not with weapons, but with patient listening.”
The Forum brings together government representatives, international organisations, and civil society groups for two days of discussions.
In his message, signed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and read aloud to participants by Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio to France, Pope Francis highlighted the indispensability of dialogue to peace processes, and underlined the close connection between peace and respect for human rights.
Dialogue: the only path to avert war
Peace, the Pope stressed in his message, “is built not with weapons, but with patient listening, dialogue and cooperation, which remain the only means of resolving disputes which is worthy of the human person.”
For this reason, Pope Francis said, fora like the one in Paris, “whose mission is to strengthen dialogue between all continents”, have an important role to play in building a “more just, united and peaceful world.”
He thus expressed his hope that the forum would “encourage sincere dialogue, based on listening to the cries of all those who suffer.”
War: A defeat for humanity
A key theme of the Pope's message was the denunciation of all wars, even those fought legitimately, in self-defence.
“While reaffirming the inalienable right to legitimate defense as well as the responsibility to protect those whose existence is threatened,” Pope Francis said, “we must admit that war is always a defeat for humanity.”
“No war is worth the tears of a mother who sees her child mutilated or killed,” he stressed. “No war is worth the loss of even one person, a sacred being created in the likeness of the Creator.”
“No war is worth the poisoning of our common home. No war is worth the despair of those who are forced to leave their homeland.”
Peace-building and human rights
In his message, Pope Francis also emphasised the close relationship between peacebuilding and human rights.
“A lasting peace,” he stressed, “is built day by day by the recognition, respect, and promotion of human dignity and fundamental rights.”
However, Pope Francis noted, although 2023 marks 75 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “millions of people on every continent” are still “deprived of the fundamental and primary right to life and to physical and mental integrity.”
Other rights which are very often not guaranteed but which would be necessary for the construction of lasting world peace, Pope Francis said, include the rights to drinking water and healthy food, freedom of religion, health, decent housing, quality education, and decent work.
Bringing his message to a close, the Pope expressed his hope that exchanges at the Forum would be “rich and fruitful.”
“May they,” he said, “enable you to listen to and encounter everyone in the richness of their diversity, so as to foster a culture of peace, and make real progress toward constructing fraternity.”
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