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Pope in Assisi Prays for Peace

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Pope Francis lights a candle during an interfaith peace gathering outside the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, Sept. 20. The pope and other religious leaders were attending a peace gathering marking the 30th anniversary of the first peace encounter. (Photo: Catholic News Service/Paul Haring)

By Junno Arocho Esteves

ASSISI, Italy (CNS) – Jesus’ cry of thirst on the cross is heard today in the cries of innocent victims of war in the world, Pope Francis said.

Christians are called to contemplate Christ in “the voice of the suffering, the hidden cry of the little innocent ones to whom the light of this world is denied,” the pope said Sept. 20 at a prayer service in Assisi with other Christian leaders, including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury.

Far too often the victims of war “encounter the deafening silence of indifference, the selfishness of those annoyed at being pestered, the coldness of those who silence their cry for help with the same ease with which television channels are changed,” the pope said in his meditation.

The pope arrived in the morning by helicopter and was whisked away to the Sacred Convent near the Basilica of St. Francis.

After arriving in a blue Volkswagen, the pope raised his arms to embrace Patriarch Bartholomew and, together, the two greeted the other religious leaders present. Archbishop Welby, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II of Antioch and leaders of the Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Buddhist communities also welcomed the pope to Assisi.

Several refugees were among those who greeted the pope, including a young Yezidi woman from Iraq’s Sinjar district who survived the August 2014 massacre committed by the Islamic State.

Related: Prayer and Dialogue: Interfaith Peace Gathering in Assisi

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