By Vatican News
There were six candles to represent the six religious confessions participating in the ceremony. There was the logo for the papal visit with the words “Pacem in terris”, from the encyclical of Pope Saint John XXIII. There were roses, symbolizing Bulgaria, and there was an olive tree, symbolizing peace.
The example of Saint Francis of Assisi
This was Pope Francis’ last public event in Bulgaria, and it was dedicated to peace. Which is why it began with the singing of the “Canticle of the Creatures” and ended with a prayer for peace in the words inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi.
In his discourse, Pope Francis held up the example of his namesake from Assisi, praising his love “for the beauty of creation and for all those whom he encountered”. It was a love “that changed his way of seeing things”, said the Pope. It was that love and helped Saint Francis to become “a true peacemaker”.
Called to be peacemakers
“Each of us is called to follow in his footsteps by becoming a peacemaker”, continued Pope Francis. “Peace is both a gift and a task”, one we must pray for and work for, striving daily “to build a culture in which peace is respected as a fundamental right”.
Peace demands that we adopt “dialogue as our path, mutual understanding as our code of conduct, and reciprocal understanding as our method and standard”, said the Pope, quoting from the Document on Human Fraternity he signed during his trip to the Arabian Peninsula in February.
Called to be witnesses to peace
Pope Francis then spoke of the symbolic significance of the site chosen for this event. “For many centuries, the Bulgarians of Sofia belonging to different cultural and religious groups gathered in this place for meetings and discussions”, he said. “May this symbolic place become a witness to peace”.
Called to be instruments of peace
“Let there be peace on earth”, concluded Pope Francis, “in our families, in our hearts, and above all in those places where so many voices have been silenced by war, stifled by indifference and ignored due to the powerful complicity of interest groups”.
“May each of us”, said the Pope, “wherever we may be, in all that we do, be able to say: “Make me an instrument of your peace”.