He also pays respects to 9/11 victims in a multi-faith prayer at Ground Zero
By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
NEW YORK (ANS – September 25, 2015) – Pope Francis has continued his tour of New York leading a multi-faith prayer at the 9/11 memorial after addressing the United Nations.
Taking the UN rostrum, the pontiff appealed for peace around the world and made his latest plea for the protection of Christians, as well as others, persecuted by extremists in Syria and Iraq.
According to AFP, he also urged a more humane global system that respects the poor and the environment, and criticized the economic order.
In a wide-ranging speech, Pope Francis touched on an array of hot-button topics, including the Iran nuclear deal, drug trafficking “silently killing millions” and the rights of girls to an education.
Pope Francis, whose reform-minded approach has won him a rousing global following even from non-believers, offered his vision of a better world on his latest stop of a US tour that has brought thousands to the streets to welcome him.
The leader of the world’s more than one billion Catholics called for reform to global bodies, including the UN Security Council and financial lenders, to “limit every kind of abuse and usury.”
He said, “The international financial agencies should care for the sustainable development of countries and should ensure that they are not subjected to oppressive lending systems which, far from promoting progress, subject people to mechanisms which generate greater poverty, exclusion and dependence.”
AFP said that he also gave his latest passionate plea to protect the environment, as he voiced confidence that a high-stakes UN conference on climate change would reach a “fundamental and effective” agreement in Paris in December.
Reaffirming a “right to the environment,” the pontiff, 78, said that the universe was “the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator” and that humanity “is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it”.
“A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged.”
The poor fare worst because they are “forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment”, he said.
Following his appearance at the United Nations, the Pope moved onto the 9/11 Memorial where, during his emotional visit, he led prayers for peace.
“The head of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics paid tribute to the victims and those who responded to the worst attacks on US soil that killed nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001,” said AFP.
The 78-year-old Argentine spoke to relatives of victims and first responders who fell in service, before leading a multi-faith prayer for world peace and a somber moment of silence.
“In this place of pain and remembrance I am full of hope because of the opportunity of joining the leaders representing so many religious traditions in the life of this great city,” he said.
“I hope our presence here sends a powerful sign of our wish to share and reaffirm the wish to be forces of reconciliation, forces of peace, of justice,” he told a gathering of 700 people.
It was the second engagement on a packed schedule for the visibly exhausted Pope.
He will later head to Philadelphia, where he will greet huge crowds at the Festival of Families, a Catholic gathering that takes place every three years.
Photo captions: 1) Pope Francis speaks during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly. (Photo: AFP: Dominick Reuter). 2) Pope Francis shakes the hand of a New York Police Department officer while visiting the 9/11 Memorial in New York. (Photo: AFP: Jin Lee) 3) Pope Francis with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. (Photo: AFP: Kevin Hagen). 4) Dan Wooding.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He is also the author of some 45 books.
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