Vatican City, 12 May 2015 (VIS) - “Peace is built day by day. … It is not an industrial product, it is an artisanal product. It is crafted every day with our work, with our life, with our closeness”, said Pope Francis yesterday to the children of the Peace Factory, the Italian association that aims to promote multi-ethnic integration and to raise awareness among spiritual leaders, politicians and in education so that they use a language of peace.
Francis answered the very direct and concrete questions posed by thirteen of the seven thousand children who filled the Paul VI Hall. Some were very personal: for instance, a girl asked if, like her, the Pope ever argued with his siblings or other members of his family. “We have all argued with someone in our family”, replied the Pope. “It is part of life, as one sibling wants to play one game, another wants to play a different one … but in the end the important thing is to make peace. … Do not end the day without making peace. At times I may be right and the other may be wrong. So how can I apologise? I don't, but I make a gesture of closeness and the friendship continues. … I too have argued many times, even now... I lose my temper. But I always try to make peace. It is human to disagree. The important thing is that it does not linger, and that there is peace again afterwards”.
Another child asked if the Pope ever tired of being surrounded by so many people, and if he too needed some peace every now and then. “At times I would like to be calmer, to rest a little more, it is true”, he admitted. “But being with people does not take away peace. … What takes peace away is not caring for one another. Jealousy, envy and greed take away peace. But being with people is good, it does not stand in the way of peace! It tires me a little, because it is tiring and I am not a young man … but it does not take away peace”.
Other questions were more general, such as that of an Egyptian child who asked why people in positions of power did not help schools. “It is a question we can expand”, answered the Pope. “Why do many powerful people not want peace? Because they live from war, from the arms industry. Some powerful people earn from the production of arms, and sell weapons to one country that fights against another, and then they sell them to the other. It is the industry of death! And they earn money in this way. As you know, greed causes so much damage: the desire to have more and more money. When we see that everything revolves around money – the economic system revolves around money and not people – we make sacrifices and make war in order to defend money. And for this reason many people do not want peace. They earn more through war. They earn money, but we lose lives, we lose culture, we lose education, we lose many things. An elderly priest I met years ago used to say, 'the devil enters via the wallet'”.
The Pope explained to another child who asked for a definition of peace that “peace firstly means there are no wars … but it also means that there is friendship between all, that every day a step ahead is made for justice, so that there are no more children who are hungry, that there are no more sick children who do not have the possibility of receiving healthcare. Doing all of this means making peace. Peace involves work, it is not about staying calm and doing nothing. No! True peace means working so that everyone has a solution to the problems, to the needs, that they have in their land, in their homeland, in their family, in their society”.
“In your opinion, will we all be equal one day?” was another of the questions. “We can answer this question in two ways”, replied the Holy Father. “We are all equal – all of us – but this truth is not recognised, this equality is not recognised, and for this reason some people are, we can say, happier than others. But this is not a right! We all have the same rights. When we do not see this, society is unjust. It does not follow the rule of justice, and where there is no justice, there cannot be peace. I would like to repeat this with you: where there is no justice, there is no peace!”.
The meeting concluded with a chorus of seven thousand voices, repeating with the Pope, “Where there is no justice, there is no peace”.