(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with a group of roughly 600 refugees and disabled young people in Jordan on Saturday, near the site where Our Lord was baptised. The meeting took place on the first day of a three-day pilgrimage in the Holy Land. The Holy Father focused his remarks on the urgent need for peace and reconciliation in the whole Mideast region, noting especially the ongoing crises in Syria and Iraq. Pope Francis praised the efforts of Catholic organisations in behalf of refugees, and urged the international community to increase its efforts to aid those in need and to achieve peace founded on justice.
The Pope also asked young people for their prayers and efforts in favor of peace, justice, and reconciliation. “Dear young people,” he said, “I ask you to join me in praying for peace. You can do this by offering your daily efforts and struggles to God; in this way your prayer will become particularly precious and effective.” Pope Francis concluded with an appeal for an end to war in Syria, and for conversion of heart in all those who pursue the path of violence and destruction. “May God change the hearts of the violent and those who seek war,” prayed Pope Francis, “and may he strengthen the hearts and minds of peacemakers and grant them every blessing.”