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Episode No. 25: Let There Be Peace on Earth

For this episode of Sounds from the Sanctuary, let us all take time from our daily routines to reflect and pray for world peace. All of the music you hear today are prayers for peace in the world including the timeless Prayer of St. Francis, the Dona Nobis Pacem of Ralph Vaughan Williams, and the eternal symphonic cry for peace in the world – Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.

Prayer of St. Francis – Sebatian Temple

Peace Prayer of St. Francis – Peter Latona

RVW Dona Nobis Pacem – Atlanta Symphony Orchestra/Chorus Robert Shaw

Paul Halley Ubi Caritas – Paul Halley

Peace Like a River Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra Mack Wilberg

Let There Be Peace on Earth – Barbara Berner St. Louis Children’s Choirs

Beethoven 9, last movement, Bernstein in Berlin




Originally broadcast on 3/5/22


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As the machine of warfare continues to churn out more dangerous weaponry, only the power and joy of Christ’s resurrection can fill hearts with comfort and peace, Pope Francis said before giving his Easter blessing.

“May the one who gives us his peace end the roar of arms — both in areas of conflict and in our cities — and inspire the leaders of nations to work for an end to the arms race and the troubling spread of weaponry, especially in the economically more advanced countries,” the pope said as he prepared April 21 to give his Easter blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world).



Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is not only the start of a true renewal that “begins from the heart, from the conscience” but also the beginning of a new world “free from the slavery of sin and death” and now open to God’s kingdom of “love, peace and fraternity,” he said.

The pope’s prayer for peace came a few hours after news broke of multiple bombs that exploded in several churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, killing and wounding hundreds in the capital city of Colombo and the neighboring cities of Negombo and Batticaloa.

After giving his blessing, the pope expressed “sadness and pain” at the attack before leading the crowd in several moments of silent prayer for the victims.

“I wish to express my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, struck while it was gathered in prayer, and to all the victims of such cruel violence,” the pope said. “I entrust to the Lord all those who have been tragically lost and I pray for the wounded and all those who suffer because of this tragic event.”

According to the Vatican, an estimated 70,000 pilgrims attended the Easter morning Mass in St. Peter’s Square, where a vast floral arrangement adorning the steps leading to the basilica highlighted the festive atmosphere.

The display of flowers, imported from the Netherlands, featured more than 57,000 individual flowers, plants and trees, including tulips, daffodils, birch trees and more than 1,500 orange and blue strelitzia flowers that accented the joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection.

Pope Francis did not deliver a homily during the Mass; instead, an announcer invited the crowd to remain in silent prayer for several minutes. As a hushed silence filled the packed square, Pope Francis remained with eyes closed, hands folded and head bowed in prayerful reflection.

Standing on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica after celebrating the morning Mass, the pope prayed that the risen Christ shine his light upon “those experiencing hardship, pain and suffering,” especially in Syria, Yemen, Libya and the Holy Land.

“May the light of Easter illumine all government leaders and peoples in the Middle East, beginning with Israelis and Palestinians, and spur them to alleviate such great suffering and to pursue a future of peace and stability,” he said.

The pope prayed that Jesus would bring peace to the African continent, which he said was “still rife with social tensions, conflicts and at times violent forms of extremism that leave in their wake insecurity, destruction and death, especially in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon.”

He also prayed for peace in Sudan as well as neighboring South Sudan, whose leaders were recently at the Vatican for a spiritual retreat.

“May a new page open in the history of that country, in which all political, social and religious components actively commit themselves to the pursuit of the common good and the reconciliation of the nation,” the pope said.

Turning his attention toward Latin America, Pope Francis prayed for peace in Nicaragua so that a “negotiated solution” would bring peace to its people.

He also remembered the suffering people of Venezuela who “lack the minimal conditions for leading a dignified and secure life due to a crisis that endures and worsens.”

The pope prayed that political leaders in the country would put an “end to social injustices, abuses and acts of violence” while taking concrete steps “to heal divisions and offer the population the help they need.”

Before delivering his blessing, Pope Francis urged Christians to be renewed by the living Christ who “is hope and youth for each of us and for the entire world.”

“May the risen Christ, who flung open the doors of the tomb, open our hearts to the needs of the disadvantaged, the vulnerable, the poor, the unemployed, the marginalized, and all those who knock at our door in search of bread, refuge, and the recognition of their dignity,” he said.


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — God does not play favorites, but human beings do in little ways at school and in big ways with the global economy, Pope Francis told students from Milan’s Istituto San Carlo, a school with students from prekindergarten through high school. 

Sometimes God playing favorites seems the only explanation for why some children have everything and some have nothing, the pope said April 6. Asking “why” is essential for coming to the realization that while human suffering is a mystery, often there is a human hand behind the pain. 

Meeting some 2,600 students, teachers and parents from the Milan school, Pope Francis answered questions. 

Adriano Tibaldi, who is in his last year at the school, told the pope that he and others spent a week in the summer working with very poor people in Peru and he asked the pope, “Why does it seem that God shows favoritism?” 

Pope Francis pleaded with the students to continue asking that question as they grow and make decisions about their future vocations and work. 

“We are the ones who show favoritism,” the pope said. “We are the artisans of the differences” between those who have enough to live and those who don’t. 

“Why are there so many hungry people in the world?” the pope asked. 

It is not God’s choice, he said. “No, it’s because of the unjust economic system,” which creates people who are increasingly wealthy and people who are increasingly poor. 

“Someone might say, ‘Oh, pope, I didn’t know you were a communist,’ but, no, this is what Jesus taught us, and when we are there in front of Jesus, he will say to us, ‘Thank you, because I was hungry, and you gave me to eat.’ And to those who with this system kill children and people with hunger, he will say, ‘Go away because I was hungry, and you didn’t even look at me.’” 

“This is the protocol on which we will be judged: Matthew 25,” he said. “We are the ones who differentiate.” 

And, he said, as for children and other innocent people who are killed or maimed in war, that too is a result of human action, “because we, rich Europe and America, sell the weapons that kill children, that kill the people.” 

The pope’s specific mention of European and American arms sellers was included in the Vatican News coverage of the speech and is clear in the Vatican’s YouTube video of the event but was not included in the transcript of the event released by the Vatican press office April 7. 

“There are questions for which we will never have answers,” the pope told the young people. “But asking the questions we will grow and become adults with restless hearts, and we will become aware that we are the ones who discriminate.” 

Silvia Perucca, a teacher at the school, asked Pope Francis for advice on strengthening the Christian identity of her students while also preparing them as people of openness and dialogue in an increasingly diverse community. 

A fundamental starting point, he answered, is to ensure that the children have “roots” in their Christian faith and in their Italian culture. 

“We cannot create a culture of dialogue if we have no identity,” the pope said. “I, with my idea, dialogue with you, with your identity, and we both move forward.” 

After lamenting how people are closing their hearts and their borders to migrants, Pope Francis also went after the fearmongers who present migrants as criminals. 

In another phrase left out of the official transcript, the pope said people should not pretend that most of the criminals in their country are migrants. “The Mafia wasn’t invented by Nigerians,” he said. “The Mafia is ours, born in Italy.” 

The Vatican press office did not offer an explanation for the omissions.


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As 2017 was drawing to a close, the horrors of war and people’s yearnings for peace were on Pope Francis’ mind and in his prayers.

In an unusual move late Dec. 30, the pope had the Vatican press office and Vatican media distribute a copy of a famous photograph from the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

The photo shows a young boy, about 10 years old, carrying his dead little brother on his back. The boy is taking his brother to be cremated.

On the back of the card, Pope Francis wrote, “The fruit of war” and signed his name.

Below his signature, the pope explained that the photo was taken by U.S. Marine Corps photographer Joseph Roger O’Donnell. After the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, O’Donnell was assigned to document the scenes.

“The sadness of the child is expressed only by his lips, bitten and oozing blood,” the pope wrote.

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, printed a copy of the photograph and pope’s explanation on the back page of its edition for Jan. 1, the Catholic Church’s World Peace Day.


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — At the start of a new year, Pope Francis laid out a laundry list of suggested resolutions for religious and political leaders for making a joint commitment toward building peace.

No conflict exists that is “a habit impossible to break,” the pope said, but he underlined that kicking such a habit requires greater efforts to rectify social injustice, protect religious freedom, jump-start peace talks, end the arms trade and cooperate in responding to climate change and the immigration and refugee crises.

In a 45-minute speech Jan. 9 to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, the pope underlined what he saw as the real “enemies of peace” and the best responses that could be made by today’s religious and political leaders.

“One enemy of peace,” he said, is seeing the human person as a means to an end, which “opens the way to the spread of injustice, social inequality and corruption.”

The waste, “greedy exploitation” and inequitable distribution of the world’s resources provoke conflict, he said, and human trafficking, especially the abuse and exploitation of children, cannot be overlooked.

Another enemy of peace, the pope said, are ideologies that exploit “social unrest in order to foment contempt and hate” and target others as enemies to be eliminated.

“Under the guise of promising great benefits, (such ideologies) instead leave a trail of poverty, division, social tensions, suffering and, not infrequently, death,” he said.

What peace requires, he said, is “a vision of human beings capable of promoting an integral development respectful of their transcendent dignity” as well as the courage and commitment to seek to build peace together every day.

Religions are “called to promote peace,” he said, appealing to “all religious authorities to join in reaffirming unequivocally that one can never kill in God’s name.”

“The fundamentalist-inspired terrorism” that has been killing so many innocent people the past year is “a homicidal madness which misuses God’s name in order to disseminate death in a play for domination and power.”

Fundamentalist terrorism is the fruit of deep “spiritual poverty” that does not connect a pious fear of God with the mandate to love one’s neighbor. Often it also is linked to deep social poverty, which demands action including on the part of government leaders.

Political leaders must guarantee “in the public forum the right to religious freedom” and recognize the positive contribution religious values make in society, he said. They must promote social policies aimed at fighting poverty and promoting the family as well as invest heavily in education and culture so as to eliminate the sort of “terrain” that spreads fundamentalism.

Christians, whose divisions “have endured too long,” also must heal past wounds and journey forward together with common goals since many of those conflicts have threatened social harmony and peace, the pope said.

Peace, he said, entails greater justice and mercy in the world, especially toward foreigners, migrants and refugees.

“A common commitment is needed, one focused on offering them a dignified welcome,” he said. It means recognizing people have a right to emigrate and take up a new residence without feeling their security and cultural identity are being threatened. Immigrants, however, also must respect local laws and cultures, he added.

Handling today’s waves of migration demands global responsibility and cooperation so that the “burden of humanitarian assistance” is not left to just a few nations at enormous cost and hardship.
Peace also demands an end to the “deplorable arms trade” and a ban on nuclear weapons, he said. Easy access to firearms “not only aggravates various conflicts, but also generates a widespread sense of insecurity and fear.”

He called on the world community to do everything to encourage “serious negotiations” for an end to the war in Syria, the protection of civilians and delivery of the aid needed to address the “genuine human catastrophe” unfolding there.

He urgently appealed for the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians in order to guarantee “the peaceful coexistence of two states within internationally recognized borders.”

“No conflict can become a habit impossible to break,” he said, underlining the urgent need for peace in the whole Middle East.

The pope praised the church’s efforts — inspired by “mercy and solidarity” — to avert conflict through negotiated solutions. He thanked the many individuals who followed this path of actively working for peace, resulting in the rapprochement between Cuba and the United States, and the end to conflict in Colombia.

Lastly, peace also requires a common commitment to care for creation, he said.

Pope Francis said he hoped that after the recent Paris Agreement, there would be increased cooperation by everyone in response to climate change. Because, he said, “the earth is our common home and we need to realize that the choices of each have consequences for all.”


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The song of the angels that heralded the birth of Christ urges men and women to seek peace in a world divided by war, terrorism and greed, Pope Francis said.

“Today this message goes out to the ends of the earth to reach all peoples, especially those scarred by war and harsh conflicts that seem stronger than the yearning for peace,” the pope said Dec. 25.

Migrants, refugees, children suffering due to hunger and war, victims of human trafficking as well as social and economic unrest were also remembered by the pope.

“Peace to the peoples who suffer because of the economic ambitions of the few, because of the sheer greed and the idolatry of money, which leads to slavery,” he said.

An estimated 40,000 people slowly made their way through security checkpoints into St. Peter’s Square to attend the pope’s solemn Christmas blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world).

Heightened security following the Dec. 19 terrorist attack in Berlin, Germany was evident as police cordoned off streets and established multiple checkpoints throughout the area.

While police presence is standard for major events in St. Peter’s, the added security was a sign of the times where crowded areas have become a target for terrorists.

The pope prayed for “peace to those who have lost a person dear to them as a result of brutal acts of terrorism that has sown fear and death into the hearts of so many countries and cities.”

Countries ravaged by the scourge of war were also in the pope’s thoughts, particularly in “the war-torn land of Syria, where far too much blood has been spilled,” especially in the city Aleppo. The pope called on the world to support the people of Syria with humanitarian assistance and to put an end to the conflict.

“It is time for weapons to be silenced forever and the international community to actively seek a negotiated solution so that civil coexistence can be restored in the country,” he said.

The pope appealed for peace for the people of Ukraine, “who to this day suffer the consequences of the conflict.”

The Vatican announced Dec. 23 that the first installment of 6 million euro ($6.3 million) would be distributed on Christmas Day to assist in relief efforts in Ukraine. Earlier this year, the pope called for a collection across churches in Europe to help the people of the war-torn country.

Iraq, Libya and Yemen, “where their peoples suffer war and the brutality of terrorism,” were in the pope’s prayers so that they may “be able to once again find unity and harmony.”

The pope also remembered Africa, especially Nigeria where fundamentalist terrorism “exploits children in order to perpetrate horror and death” as well as South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, calling on their leaders to choose the path of dialogue rather than “the mindset of conflict.”

He also prayed for peace in the Holy Land and that Israelis and Palestinians turn away from hate and revenge while having “the courage and determination to write a new page of history.”

Praying for an end to current tensions, the pope also called for peace in Venezuela, Colombia, Myanmar and the Korean peninsula

Christ’s birth, he said, is a sign of joy and a call for the world to contemplate “the child Jesus who gives hope once again to every person on the face of the earth.”

“‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.’ He is the ‘prince of peace;’ let us welcome him.”

After his address, the bells of St. Peter’s rang loudly, pealing throughout the square as they did in the evening Dec. 24 following the proclamation of Jesus’ birth during Christmas Mass.

The darkness of the night sky over St. Peter’s Basilica was broken by the bright lights emanating from the colonnade and the Christmas tree from the square.

Temperatures just above 40 degrees didn’t stop thousands of people unable to enter the packed basilica from participating in the Mass, sitting outside and watching the Mass on giant screens in St. Peter’s Square.

In his homily, the pope said the love of God is made visible at Christ’s birth on a night of glory, joy and light “which would illuminates those who walk in darkness.”

The shepherds are a witness to “the enduring sign” of finding Jesus when they discover him wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger;” a sign that is given to all Christians today, the pope said.

“If we want to celebrate Christmas authentically, we need to contemplate this sign: the fragile simplicity of a small newborn, the meekness of where he lies, the tender affection of the swaddling clothes. God is there,” he said.

This sign of humility, he added, also reveals a paradox: God who chose not to reveal himself through power, but rather through the “poverty of a stable” and “in the simplicity of life.”

“In order to discover him, we need to go there, where he is: we need to bow down, humble ourselves, make ourselves small,” the pope said.

The image of the child in the manger, he continued, is a challenge for all Christians to “leave behind fleeting illusions” and “renounce insatiable claims.”

It is also a calling for the world to respond to the sufferings of children in this age who “suffer the squalid mangers that devour dignity: hiding underground to escape bombardment, on the pavements of a large city, at the bottom of a boat overladen with immigrants,” the pope said.

“Let us allow ourselves to be challenged by the children who are not allowed to be born, by those who cry because no one satiates their hunger, by those who do not have toys in their hands, but rather weapons,” he said.

Christmas is not only a mystery of hope but also of sadness where “love is not received and life discarded” as seen by the indifference felt by Mary and Joseph “who found the doors closed and placed Jesus in a manger.”

That same indifference, he said, exists today when commercialism overshadows the light of God and “when we are concerned for gifts but cold towards those who are marginalized.”

“This worldliness has taken Christmas hostage. It needs to be freed!” the pope said departing from his prepared remarks.

However, the hope of Christmas is the light that outshines this darkness and “draws us to himself” through his humble birth in Bethlehem,” he said.

Noting that Bethlehem means “house of bread,” the pope said that Jesus was born to nourish us, creating a “direct thread joining the manger and the cross.”

“In this way, he seems to tell us that he is born as bread for us; he enters life to give us his life; he comes into our world to give us his love. He does not come to devour or to command but to nourish and to serve,” the pope said.

Pope Francis said that like the shepherds, who although marginalized are chosen to witness the birth of Christ, Christians are reminded of God’s closeness and can enjoy the true spirit of Christmas: “the beauty of being loved by God.”

“Contemplating his humble and infinite love, let us say to him: thank you, thank you because you have done all this for me,” the pope said.