Leading a crowd in prayer for peace in Syria on Saturday, Pope Francis said that war is ultimately caused by selfishness, which can be overcome only though expressions of fraternity and never with violence. "Leave behind the self-interest that hardens your heart, overcome the indifference that makes your heart insensitive towards others, conquer your deadly reasoning, and open yourself to dialogue and reconciliation," the pope said before an estimated 100,000 people in St Peter's Square, reports the Catholic News Service.
The pope had called the prayer vigil less than a week earlier, as the central event of a worldwide day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East and the world.
The Vatican called the vigil an unprecedented papal gesture for peace, by virtue of its scale and prominence of location. It took place the same day that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with European leaders to make President Barack Obama's case for a military strike on the government of Syria's President Bashar Assad, as punishment for the alleged use of chemical weapons in the ongoing civil war there.
The pope's homily, which took up about 15 minutes of the four-hour liturgy, did not refer to contemporary events but spoke in biblical terms about the nature of war, whose origins he traced to the fall of Adam and the first murder, by Cain of his brother Abel.
Answering Cain's famous question to God -- "Am I my brother's keeper?" -- the pope replied: "Yes, you are your brother's keeper! To be human means to care for one another."
"We bring about the rebirth of Cain in every act of violence and in every war," the pope said. "All of us!"
War's ultimate source, Pope Francis said, is the original sin of disobedience.
The world prays for peace (Vatican Insider)
World heeds pope's call for Syria prayers (Herald Sun)