In a new Pope Video released by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, Pope Francis invites the world to spread an “evangelical peace” starting in each person’s own heart. In particular, he urged people to substitute violence with dialogue, using words that come from the heart.
“Let us pray together that the language of love and dialogue may always prevail over the language of conflict,” said the Pope. “We can speak with splendid words, but if there is no peace in our heart, there will be no peace in the world.”
According to the UN, 90% of the civilian victims in armed conflicts are women and children, and its June 2018 report specifies that during 2017, 21,000 acts of grave violence against children were reported. The United Nations Agency for Refugees estimates that since 1948 there have been more than 52 million refugees and displaced persons due to armed conflicts.
“With zero violence and one hundred percent tenderness, let us build the evangelical peace that excludes no one,” said the Pope. He added, “Let us pray together that the language of love and dialogue may always prevail over the language of conflict.”
Tenderness is a concept at the heart of Pope Francis’ pontificate. In an address he gave in a TED talk, Pope Francis said, “And what is tenderness? It is the love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands.” He even called for a “revolution of tenderness” in the world.
The Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), echoing Pope Francis’ invitation, launched a campaign called “We Need Everyone: Zero Violence, 100% Tenderness.” This ecumenical social mobilization is taking place across all of Latin America and the Caribbean, from Mexico’s northern border with the United States of America down to Patagonia. It denounces the varied forms of violence perpetrated against children, and proposes tenderness as the path for promoting the life and dignity of the youngest among us. The Eucharistic Youth Movement (EYM) in Latin America and the Caribbean is supporting this campaign as well.
On his part, Fr. Frédéric Fornos SJ, international director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (which includes the EYM), said that “peace among peoples begins in our daily dealings with each other; when I meet someone on the street, seeing his face and meeting his gaze, and especially when the other is different, due to his language and culture, his unfamiliar attitudes, and when he is what we call a ‘foreigner.'” “Peace and concord among the peoples of the earth begins like this, on the streets, in our homes, in my activities and in my family, rejecting fear of the other and respecting him,” he added.