Monday, 11 May 2015
On May 11 2015, Pope Francis addressed over 7000 children, parents and teachers from different cultures around the world as part of an Italian initiative called the “La Fabbrica della pace” or the Peace Factory. The Pope spoke about injustice, peace, greed and an economic system which placed profits before people.
The Pope congratulated the youth in their efforts to build “a society without injustices and violence, in which every child and youth may be welcomed and grow in love”. He noted that there was grave “need for peace factories, because unfortunately there is no shortage of war factories. War is the fruit of hatred, of selfishness, of the desire to always possess more and to prevail over others. In order to counter this you are committed to spread the culture of inclusion, of reconciliation and encounter.”
The need for a change in mentality
“There are so many of you who are involved in this project: you school students, belonging to different ethnicities and religions; “La Fabbrica della pace” foundation, which has sponsored this educational project; teachers and parents; the Ministry of Education; and the Italian Bishops’ Conference. It is a fine path, which requires courage and hard work, so that everyone may understand the need for a change in mentality, to guarantee safety to the children of the planet, particularly those who live in war zones and areas of persecution.”
In addition to a prepared speech the Pope responded to 13 questions from the international students. The fourth question came from an Egyptian boy.
“Dear Pope, we are from countries that are poor and at war. The school cares for us. Why don’t powerful people help the school?”
The Pope responded as follows:
“Why is it that so many powerful people don’t want peace? Why don’t powerful people help the school? We can also broaden the question a bit: why is it that so many powerful people don’t want peace? Because they live on war! The arms industry: this is grave! The powerful, some of the powerful, profit from the production of arms and they sell arms to this country which is against that one, and then they sell them to the one that goes against this one.”
“It is the industry of death! And they profit. You know, greed does us so much harm: the desire to have more, more and more money. When we see that everything revolves around money — the economic system revolves around money and not around the person, (not) around man, (not) around woman, but around money — so much is sacrificed and war is made to protect the money. And because of this, many people don’t want peace. There is more profit with war! Money is earned, but lives are lost, culture is lost, education is lost, so many things are lost. This is why they don’t want it. An elderly priest that I met years ago used to say this: the devil enters through the pocketbook, through greed. This is why they don’t want peace!”
Another student asked the Pope:
“But according to you, Pope, one day will we all be equal?”
“This question can be answered in two ways: we are all equal — everyone! — but this truth is not acknowledged, this equality is not acknowledged, and therefore some are — let’s say the word, but between quotation marks — happier than others. But this is not a right! We all have the same rights! When this is not acknowledged, that society is unjust. It isn’t based on justice. And where there is no justice, there can be no peace. Do you understand? Let’s say it together, let’s see if you are good, I would like to repeat it more than once…. Pay attention, it’s like this: “Where there is no justice, there is no peace!”… Everyone!”
[They repeat several times: “Where there is no justice, there is no peace!”]
Pope Francis also responded to a question on the nature of peace. He was asked:
Dear Pope, I am nine years old and I always hear talk of peace. But what is peace? Can you explain it to me?
“You were good. Good job! Peace is first of all that there be no war, but also that there be joy, that there be friendship among all, that every day a step forward be taken for justice, so that there be no starving children, so that there be no sick children without the opportunity to have assistance with their health. Doing all this is making peace. Peace is work; it isn’t being calm…. No, no! True peace is working so that all will have solutions to the problems, the needs that they have in their land, in their homeland, in their family, in their society. This is how peace is made — as I said — it is “handcrafted”.
The Pope also had some suggestions for the children
“Taking your questions into account, I would like to offer you some suggestions for doing a good job in this construction site of peace.
I shall draw on the very expression “Peace Factory”. The term “factory” tells us that peace is something that must be made, must be built with wisdom and tenacity. But in order to build a world of peace, we must begin from our “world”, in other words from the environments we live in every day: the family, school, the courtyard, the gym, the chapel…. And it is important to work together with the people who live alongside us: friends, classmates, parents and teachers.
Everyone’s help is needed in order to build a better future. Adults and institutions, too, are responsible for stimulating you, supporting you, sustaining you, educating you in true values. And I urge you, never give up, not even in the face of difficulties and misunderstandings. Each of your actions, each of your gestures toward a neighbour can build peace. For example, should you happen to argue with a companion, make peace straight away; or apologize to parents and friends when you fall short in some way. A true builder of peace is one who takes the first step toward the other. This is not weakness but strength, the strength of peace. How can the wars in the world end if we are not able to overcome our small misunderstandings and quarrels? Our acts of dialogue, forgiveness, reconciliation, are the “bricks” needed to build the framework of peace.
Another really beautiful thing about your “Fabbrica” is that it has no borders: the climate emits an air of welcome and encounter without barriers or exclusion. Before people coming from different countries and ethnicities, who have other traditions and religions, your attitude is that of awareness and dialogue, for the inclusion of all, in observance of the laws of the State. You understand that to build a world of peace it is essential to take an interest in the needs of the poorest, of the most suffering and abandoned, as well as those who are distant.
Pope Francis has repeatedly called for world peace, organizing an International Meeting for Peace in 2013, which gathered influential religious leaders from around the world.
Source: Address of Pope Francis to more than 7,000 children, parents and teachers for an Italian initiative called The Peace Factory Libreria Editrice Vaticana