Here is the translation of Pope Francis’ dialogue with children on 12 May during an audience organised by “The Peace Factory” Foundation. The Pope responded to numerous questions posed by children taking part in the meeting. Also included is the address prepared by the Holy Father and given for publication:
Dear Young people,
I thank you for your invitation to work with you in the “Factory of Peace”! It is a good place of work, because it is about building a society without injustices and violence, in which every child and youngster can be received and grow in love. There is so much need of factories of peace, because unfortunately the factories of war are not lacking! War is the fruit of hatred, of egoism, of the desire to possess always more and to prevail over others. And to oppose it you are committed to spread the culture of inclusion, of reconciliation and of encounter. In this project — you are involved in many — you pupils of schools, belonging to different ethnic groups and religions; “The Factory of Peace” Foundation, which has organized this educational project; the teachers and parents; the Minister of Education and the Italian Episcopal Conference. It is a good way, which requires courage and effort, so that all will understand the need for a change in mentality, to guarantee the safety of the children of the planet, in particular those who inhabit areas of war and persecution. Keeping your questions in mind, I would like to give you some suggestions to work well in this building yard of peace.
I take my cue in fact from the expression “Factory of Peace.” The term “factory” tells us that peace is something that must be done, that must be built with wisdom and tenacity. However, to build a world of peace, we must begin from our “world,” that is, from the environments in which we live every day: the family, the school, the courtyard, the gymnasium, the oratory … And it is important to work together with the persons that live beside us: friends, school companions, parents and educators. There is need of everyone’s help to build a better future. It is for the adults, also the institutions, to stimulate you, to support you, to educate you to true values. And I recommend that you never surrender, not even in face of difficulties and misunderstandings. Every action of yours, every gesture in dealings with your neighbor can build peace. For instance, if it happens that you quarrel with a friend, make peace immediately, or apologize to parents and friends, when you have failed in something. The real peacemaker is the one who takes the first step towards the other. And this is not weakness, but strength, the strength of peace. How can wars end in the world if we are not capable of surmounting our little misunderstandings and quarrels? Our acts of dialogue, of forgiveness, of reconciliation are “bricks” that serve to build the edifice of peace.
Another very good thing of your “Factory” is that it has no borders: a climate of hospitality and encounter is breathed without barriers or exclusions. In face of people that come from different countries and ethnic groups, that have other traditions and religions, your attitude is that of knowledge and dialogue, for the inclusion of all, in respect of the laws of the State, And then you have understood that to build a world of peace it is indispensable to be concerned about the needs of the poorest, of those who suffer most and of those who are abandoned, also those that are far away. I am thinking of so many of your contemporaries who only because of the fact of being Christians have been chased out of their homes, of their countries, and some have been killed because they had a Bible in their hand! And thus the work of your “factory” becomes truly a work of love. To love others, especially the most disadvantaged, means to witness that every person is a gift of God – every person!
But peace itself is a gift of God, a gift to be asked for with confidence in prayer. Therefore, it is important not only to be witnesses of peace and love, but also witnesses of prayer. Prayer is to speak with God, our Father who is in Heaven, and to confide in him our desires, our joys and our displeasures. Prayer is to ask him for forgiveness every time we make a mistake or commit a sin, in the certainty that He forgives always. His goodness to us drives us also to be merciful to our brothers, forgiving them from our heart when they offend us or do us harm. And, finally, peace has a face and a heart: the face and heart of Jesus, the Son of God, who died on the cross and rose precisely to give peace to every man and to the whole of humanity. Jesus is “our peace” (Ephesians 2:14), because he pulled down the wall of hatred that separates men among themselves.
See, dear young people, and dear friends, what I wish to tell you. I thank you again for having involved me in the “Factory of Peace.” Let us work together in this great building yard. I ask you, please, not to forget to pray for me. For my part, I remember you affectionately, I pray for you and I bless you.”