At the Italian Peace Factory initiative in the Vatican, Pope Francis spoke to 7,000 children, parents and teachers about the nature of war, peace and greed as well as the role that society’s most powerful play in perpetuating violence.
In the question and answer session with the children, Francis was asked by an Egyptian boy why powerful people do not invest in schools. The Pontiff broadened the question, saying: “Why do many powerful people not want peace? Because they live off war: the arms industry.”
He went on to argue that the industry arms every side of conflicts. Noting the high profits, Francis called it “the industry of death.” He spoke of an old priest who used to say, “The devil comes in through the wallet.”
Francis spoke to another child, whose father was in prison. The child asked whether children should be kept in jail. “No,” he replied. He emphasized the importance of helping those who make mistakes in picking themselves back up “with education, with love, with being close.” Prison is how society forgets about those who suffer, the Pontiff explained.
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In regards to sibling conflict, Francis said that some fighting is inevitable and that the solution is ending the day in peace. Asked whether he wanted more peace in his busy schedule as the head of the Catholic Church, he said: “Often I’d like a little tranquility, to rest a little more. This is true. But being with people doesn’t take away peace. Yes, there’s a racket, noise, moving around.”
What truly robs people of peace is the absence of love, when there is “jealousy, envy, greed, taking things from others," Francis said.
This is just the latest example of Pope Francis’ tradition of outspokenness. He has previously condemned capitalism and "trickle-down" economics.
Francis has also decreed a “Holy Year of Mercy” to begin in December, in which he will have priests working as missionaries offer forgiveness to doctors who have performed abortions and women who’ve had them.