Pope Francis Says Indifference to Human Suffering, Not Religion, Is to Blame for War

Pope Francis assembles religious leaders to combat “Paganism of Indifference.”

In a powerful statement made at Assisi on Tuesday, Pope Francis declared that the world today is thirsting for peace, and not war. As such, the desire for war, and the apathy towards the victims and results of war shown by some people is described by him as being “pagan.” The Pope also thundered that the indifference that exists today towards human suffering is nothing short of a “sickness.”

The Pope was speaking at an international interreligious gathering attended by the major leaders of various leaders around the world. The gathering was held to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace. The event was held this year in Assisi, the town of Pope Francis' namesake saint, St. Francis of Assisi, in dedication to whom Pope Francis chose his Pontifical name.

During the speech the pope stressed on how the apathy and indifference towards human suffering that is causing so much war and strife. He added that while recognizing this kind of “paganism” as the real culprit, it is important to note that religion is not to be blamed. The pope reflected on how the very essence of all religions is peace and love. While he admitted that once upon a time, people from different religions would pray against each other, the united presence of all leaders in Assisi on that day showed how all religions want peace in the modern world. He also said that today, people of all religions are praying together, for each other rather than separately and against each other.

The pope, who is well-known for his strong and powerful use for words, expressed his sorrow at how the war victims' pleas for peace were met with the “bitter vinegar of rejection.” He also recalled the time when he and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew saw how war had devastated the lives of refugees in the island of Lesbos. The pontiff went on to say that he is always plagued by thoughts about how tragic the life is of people who have known only war all their lives.

The gathering was attended by leaders of all major religions including denominations of Christianity, Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Jews and more. 

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