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Pope Francis: peace is “an active virtue” against “fundamentalist terrorism”; a “common commitment” for migrants

The fourth speech of Pope Francis to the Diplomatic Corps was centred on the themes of security and peace. Peace is an “active virtue” against “fundamentalist terrorism”, the Pope said addressing not only the Heads of Government or State, but also “all people of good will.” Among the priorities listed by the Pope figure the common commitment for migrants, refugees, and displaced persons, along with the urgent need to “update the idea of Europe” for a “new humanism” that may avert its decline. Appeal for Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

In a world dominated by “senseless conflicts” and by a “general sense of fear” for too many people peace remains “a distant dream”, denounced Pope Francis, whose fourth speech to the Diplomatic Corps was dedicated to the theme of security and peace. A century since the end of the First World War, condemned by Benedict XVI as a “useless slaughter”, Francis speaks a “word of hope, which can also indicate a path on which to embark” “in today’s climate of “general apprehension for the present, and uncertainty and anxious concern for the future.” The Pope’s appeal is addressed not only to the heads of Government or State but also to the persons “of good will”, each of them called to do their share in the promotion of peace, starting with religions, urged to say NO to “fundamentalist terrorism.” Moreover, peace is “an active virtue” to be attained by rediscovering the “social value” of mercy,  implemented through a “common commitment with regard to migrants, refugees and displaced persons.” Such “prudence” does not entail “policies of exclusion”, nor should it be reduced to “a mere matter of numbers.” In fact, it involves “concrete gestures of human solidarity” such as the generous welcome of Italy, Germany, Greece and Sweden. The Holy See currently has diplomatic relations with 182. Countries.

“Fundamentalist-inspired terrorism” is a “homicidal madness which misuses God’s name in order to disseminate death”, exclaimed the Pope, mentioning the “numerous victims” it reaped last year throughout the world. “One can never kill in God’s name”, the Pope reiterated. The antidote is “the joint contribution of religious and political authorities.” NO to “a mere quiet life” and YES to peace as “an active virtue” that calls for the engagement and cooperation of each individual and society as a whole.” “Peacemaking” also demands that justice “be completed by forgiveness”, as done by some Heads of State or Government that responded to the Pope’s request “to make a gesture of clemency towards the incarcerated.”

Mercy is “a social value”, the Pope said drawing a balance of the Jubilee that has just ended: it is precisely the “culture of mercy” that will make it possible “to build societies that are open and welcoming towards foreigners and at the same time internally secure and at peace.” In order to appropriately address the issue of migration flows, Francis said recalling the main theme of last year’s speech to the Diplomatic Corps, “a common commitment is needed with regard to migrants, displaced persons and refugees; one focused on offering them a dignified welcome”:

“Prudence on the part of public authorities does not mean enacting policies of exclusion vis-à-vis migrants, but it does entail evaluating, with wisdom and foresight, the extent to which their country is in a position, without prejudice to the common good of citizens, to offer a decent life to migrants, especially those truly in need of protection. Above all, the current crisis should not be reduced to a simple matter of numbers.  Migrants are persons, with their own names, stories and families.  There can never be true peace as long as a single human being is violated in his or her personal identity and reduced to a mere statistic or an object of economic calculation.”

“Concrete gestures of human solidarity” are needed in welcoming those in need, as has happened and continues to happen in Italy, Germany and Sweden. “Children and young people are the future. They cannot be selfishly overlooked or forgotten”, the Pope warned, underlining that children’s protection, whose innocence is often violated by exploitation, clandestine and slave labour, prostitution or the abuse of adults, criminals and dealers in death, “is a priority.

In Syria the international community should “make every effort to encourage serious negotiations for an end to the conflict, which is causing a veritable human catastrophe”:

This also means “working for the elimination of the deplorable arms trade and the never-ending race to create and spread ever more sophisticated weaponry”, putting an end to nuclear “experiments” being conducted in the Korean peninsula. The Pope condemned the “easy access” to the sale of arms, “including those of small calibre.”

“The Holy See renews its urgent appeal for the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians towards a stable and enduring solution that guarantees the peaceful coexistence of two states within internationally recognized borders. No conflict can become a habit impossible to break.  Israelis and Palestinians need peace.  The whole Middle East urgently needs peace!”

The Pope said dedicating his words to one of the most tragic and long-lasting world conflicts, often fuelled by “ideologies” that foment hatred. Conversely, peace “triumphs through solidarity”, Francis points out, mentioning among the fruits of the dialogue promoted by the Holy See “the rapprochement between Cuba and the United States” and the efforts made “to end years of conflict in Columbia.”

As regards our Continent, Francis highlighted the need to “update the idea of Europe”, so as “to give birth to a new humanism based on the capacity to integrate, dialogue and generate.” In the closing remarks of his speech to the Diplomatic Corps the Pope urged to “work actively for the care of creation”, praising the solidarity “which united the beloved Italian people” in the days after the earthquake. The Pope expressed the hope that “this solidarity” may “continue to inspire the entire nation, particularly at this delicate time in its history.”

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