In his plane going from Rome to Krakow, Poland, Pope Francis told reporters
“The world is at war. We don’t need to be afraid to say this.”
The statement comes after the recent killing of a French Priest. Reverend Jacques Hamel was celebrating Mass in a small town in Normandy when two men with knives entered the church and slit his throat. The Islamic State has since claimed responsibility for the attack.
After greeting reporters on the plane, Pope Francis went on to clarify his statement, specifying that the war he mentioned is
“a war of interests, for money, resources. … I am not speaking of a war of religions. Religions don’t want war. The others want war.”
The Pontifex made his first official visit to Poland Wednesday in order to honor World Youth Day.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) July 27, 2016
Relics from St. Mary of Magdeline were brought into the church and put on display. The white-and-yellow Papal colors displayed on flags flew throughout Krakow, as the city waited in anticipation for the Pope.
“I have never seen so many people in Krakow, it’s difficult to move around even though offices have closed (for the event) and many people have left the city,” said Anna Gazda, owner of a souvenir shop.
The Pope addressed more than a million young Catholics who traveled all over the world to Krakow for World Youth Day. Speaking with them, he praised Poland for their ability to “establish a national community on the foundation of its human, social, political, economic and religious heritage.” Pope Francis called on young pilgrims to respect “the complex phenomenon of migration,” which “calls for great wisdom and compassion, in order to overcome fear and to achieve the greater good.”
“Also needed,” Francis said, “is a spirit of readiness to welcome those fleeing from wars and hunger, and solidarity with those deprived of their fundamental rights, including the right to profess one’s faith in freedom and safety.”
Three days before the Pope’s arrival in Poland, the Vatican issued a statement reprimanding Polish officials who “artificially created fear of Muslims.”
Poland, like other states in Central Europe, has refused to take in the quota of refugees requested by the European Union. After the Bastille Day attacks in Nice, Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak assured Poles that borders would remain sealed to ensure their safety.
Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said she did not see the Pope’s comments as intended to rebuke Polish officials.
“What the Holy Father said was that we need to stick together,” she said during a briefing for reporters. “The times are becoming increasingly hard, and only in unity can we can find the solution to our problems.”