Wednesday 25 April 2018

Pope Francis: 'The world is at war but it is not a war of religions'

Pope Francis travels in the popemobile with Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow to a welcoming ceremony at Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow, Poland July 27, 2016
Pope Francis travels in the popemobile with Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow to a welcoming ceremony at Wawel Royal Castle in Krakow, Poland July 27, 2016

The world is at war, but it is not a war of religions, Pope Francis has said.

Francis spoke on the papal plane en route to Poland on his first visit to central and eastern Europe in the shadow of the slaying of a priest in France.

Asked about the killing, Francis replied: "It's war, we don't have to be afraid to say this."

He said that when he speaks of war, he is speaking of "a war of interests, for money, resources, dominion of peoples."

"I am not speaking of a war of religions. Religions don't want war. The others want war," Francis said.

The killing of the 85-year-old priest in a Normandy church on Tuesday added to security fears surrounding Francis' five-day visit for the World Youth Day celebrations.

These concerns were already high due to a string of violent attacks in France and Germany.

Polish officials said they have deployed tens of thousands of security officials to cover the event.

A pensive Francis was greeted at Krakow airport by Poland's president Andrzej Duda, first lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda and other state officials, as well as hundreds of faithful who had waited for hours to see him.

The Polish Army band played the anthems of the Vatican and of Poland.

Francis then travelled in an open car through the city, waving at crowds as he headed to the Wawel Castle for the main welcoming ceremony.

He is due to appear in the window of the residence of Krakow bishops, where he will be staying.

Francis will chat with some among the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world gathered for the World Youth Day celebrations running until Sunday.

"Let's live WYD (World Youth Day) in Krakow together!" the pontiff tweeted before departing from Rome, where he was bid farewell outside his Santa Marta residence by 15 refugees, new arrivals in Italy.

Groups of cheerful young pilgrims were seen in the streets of Krakow just hours before Francis' arrival for the major Catholic event.

Relics of St Mary Magdalene came to the St Casimir Church from France for the duration of World Youth Day, and were displayed in a case by the altar.

"Their presence helps us concentrate on our prayers and brings us closer to God," said Nounella Blanchedent, 22, from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.

Ms Blanchedent was one of the volunteers helping with security and logistics at the packed church, where a Mass was held in French for pilgrims from France, Belgium and other countries.

Poland, a predominantly Catholic country, remains proud of the late pontiff, St John Paul II, who served as priest and archbishop in Krakow before becoming pope.

A sense of excitement was apparent in sunny Krakow on Wednesday with papal white-and-yellow flags and images of Francis and John Paul II decorating the streets.

Stages were put up at many locations for concerts and other activities that are being held by and for the pilgrims in Krakow.

There was a heavy presence of police and other security forces across the city, as crowds were increasing everywhere.

"I have never seen so many people in Krakow," said souvenir shop owner Anna Gazda.

"It's difficult to move around even though offices have closed (for the event) and many people have left the city."


Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News