2016-09-24 / Religion

Pope, refugees, religious leaders pray for peace

ASSISI, Italy — Pope Francis met with war refugees and religious figures on Tuesday in Assisi, the Italian hometown of the tolerance-preaching St. Francis, for a day of prayers for peace, openness toward refugees and calls for religions to marginalize fundamentalism.

He lamented in a prayer service in St. Francis Basilica that refugees from conflicts often receive “the bitter vinegar of rejection.”

“Who listens to them? Who bothers responding to them?” Francis said. “Far too often, they encounter the deafening silence of indifference, the selfishness of those annoyed at being pestered, the coldness of those who silence their cry for help with the same ease with which television channels are changed.”

Throughout his papacy, Francis has decried those who turn their backs on those fleeing wars and poverty.

A Muslim speaker, Din Syamsuddin, president of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, lamented that lack of peace in the world is expressed in injustice, terrorism and other evils, and that some groups use the name of Islam to carry out violent acts.

Francis told participants: “Peace alone is holy, not war!”

Later, the names of countries where war or other violence is raging were read aloud, in alphabetical order, with a tall, slender candle lit for each place. Places cited included Syria, Yemen, Nigeria, Mexico, Ukraine and Mindanao in the Philippines.

Participants signed an appeal to the world’s leaders to eliminate the “motives” of war such as greed for power and money, including in the arms business, and the thirst for vengeance.

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