A little boy asks Pope Francis: 'What is peace?'

By Ann Schneible

Vatican City, May 11, 2015 / 01:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News) - This question was part of a special question and answer session with the Bishop of Rome touching on a wide range of themes – from the link between greed and war, to arguments with siblings, and the role of religion in promoting peace in the world.

“Religion helps us because it makes us walk in God's presence,” the Pope said: “it helps us because it gives us the Commandments, the Beatitudes.”

Above all, religion helps us learn “to love our neighbor” – and this is a commandment that all religions have in common, he said.

It is this “love of neighbor” which helps everyone make peace, and “to go forward in peace.”

Pope Francis made these remarks on May 11 during during a encounter with 7,000 children in the Vatican's Paul VI hall. The meeting was sponsored by the Fabbrica della Pace – the Peace Factory – an initiative which uses education to promote integration, cross-cultural and multi-ethnic understanding.

In prepared remarks, the Pope lauded Peace Factory for its work in building “a society without injustice and violence, in which every child and youth may be welcomed and grow in love.”

Saying there is need for more “peace factories,” the Pope lamented the number of “war factories” in existence.

“War is the fruit of hate, of selfishness, of the  desire to possess more and more, and to dominate others.”

In contrast, members of the Peace Factory are committed to “defending the culture of inclusion, of reconciliation and of encounter.”

During the Q&A with the children, the Pope touched on a wide range of subjects, from personal and individual to global.

One little girl asked if the Pope argues with his family like she argues with her sister: He replied that we all argue, but said we should never conclude the day without making peace.

Another asked: “If a person does not want peace with you, what would you do?”

The Pope responded by saying he would respect that person's freedom, never seeking revenge against him. In fostering peace, he said: “respect for persons is always, always first.”

Pope Francis also spoke about peace in more serious contexts, touching on themes such as greed in countries torn by war and conflict.

“Why do many powerful people not want peace?” the Pope asked, responding to a question posed by an Egyptian child as to why the powerful do not support schools. “Because they live on war!”

Such persons benefit from the sale of weapons – which he described as “the industry of death” – and decried the evil brought about by the greed for more and more money.

“And it is for this reason that many people do not want peace,” he said: “They benefit more from war!”

Pope Francis then touched on the theme of equality, having been asked if everyone is equal today.

“We are all equal – everyone!” he said, but there are those who do not recognize this equality, and that we all have the same rights. A society which does not see this, he said, “that society is unjust... and where there is no justice, there is no peace.”