Pope Francis: The path to peace requires humility

Pope Francis meets with members of the Citadel of Peace Association Dec 3 2018 Credit Vatican Media Pope Francis meets with members of the Citadel of Peace Association Dec. 3, 2018. | Vatican Media.

In a speech on Monday, Pope Francis called for humility as a path to world peace, urging world leaders and citizens of every nation to work for an end to violence and a greater respect for human dignity.

"There is a need for leaders with a new mentality," the pope said. "Those who do not know how to dialogue and exchange with each other are not leaders of peace: a leader who does not try to meet the 'enemy', to sit with him at the table as you do, cannot lead his people to peace. To do this we need humility, not arrogance."

The pope's words came in a Dec. 3 address to members of the Citadel of Peace Association, on the 20th anniversary of its founding. The organization, established by Franco Vaccari, has transformed the abandoned Tuscan town of Rondine into a center for study of conflict resolution, earning a nomination for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. Young people from areas of conflict in the world come to the center to study.

"Your educational commitment is to host young people who, in various parts of the world, live stranded in cultures poisoned by pain and hatred, and to offer them a bold challenge: to verify in person whether the other, he or she who is beyond a closed boundary, of barbed wires or impassable walls, is really what everyone claims: an enemy," Pope Francis told members of the association.

"In these 20 years you have developed a method capable of transforming conflicts, of bringing young people out of this deception and restoring them to their peoples for a full spiritual, moral, cultural and civil development: generous young people who, innocent, are born with the burden of the failures of previous generations."

The pope noted that peace and those in poverty were close to his heart when he chose the name Francis. Poverty and war are linked to suffering and hatred, he said. "By choosing to dedicate yourselves to young people, you also commit yourselves to fighting poverty and building peace, as a work of justice and love."

He noted that members of the Citadel of Peace Association will present an appeal at the United Nations next week, for the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Pope Francis offered his support for the appeal, saying it "contains and proposes a concrete vision."

"Listening to a young Palestinian and a young Israeli who together ask the governments of the world to take a step that can reopen the future, transferring the cost of a weapon from the defense budget to the education budget to form a peace leader, is a rare thing, it is a bright thing!"

The pope said that his upcoming message for the World Day of Peace on Jan. 1 stresses "that political responsibility belongs to every citizen, in particular to those who have received the mandate to protect and to rule."

Emphasizing that "trust is created only in dialogue" and "peace is the responsibility of every person," Pope Francis urged, "With the efforts of everyone, we must definitively remove war from the planet and from the history of humanity."

Those who have been formed at Rondine, the pope said, have learned trust and are now young leaders who are ready to accept professional and political duties for the sake of the common good.

He encouraged the association as it moves forward to break down barriers and maintain a sense of wonder and humility, working for a greater respect of human dignity.

"Dear young people of Rondine, safeguard the trust you have gained among you and transform it into a generous task of service to the common good," he said.

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