Leading a summit of Christian leaders on how to promote peace in West Asia, Pope Francis said on Saturday that building walls, occupying territories and religious fanaticism would not resolve conflict in West Asia or any other region.
Pope Francis repeated his view that the status quo of the city of Jerusalem should be respected, and backed a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.
He had convened the summit in the southern Italian city of Bari that for centuries has been a gateway to West Asia and home to the relics of St. Nicholas, a figure venerated in both the western and eastern branches of Christianity.
'Truce maintained by walls and displays of power will not lead to peace, but only the concrete desire to listen and to engage in dialogue will,' he said in his second speech, after a private meeting with leaders.
'Let there be an end to the few profiting from the sufferings of many. No more occupying territories and thus tearing people apart,' he said.Israel says its fence-and-concrete barrier on the West Bank was built as a bulwark against Palestinian attacks while Palestinians say it is a land grab that may deny them a state. Pope Francis said every community in West Asia should be protected, and not simply the majority.
He condemned religious extremism, saying many conflicts in the region had been stoked by 'forms of fundamentalism and fanaticism that, under the guise of religion, have profaned God's name, which is peace, and persecuted age-old neighbours'.
Pope Francis spoke twice about Jerusalem, the holy city whose status is at the heart of the conflict. Israel says it is the country's united and eternal capital while Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of any future state.
The Pope said Jerusalem's status quo as a city sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims should be respected.He had previously called for all to honour UN's resolutions on the city. The Vatican expressed concern last year when Washington announced the move of its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
He also denounced the terrible suffering, particularly of children, in Syria, where the seven-year-old war has killed hundreds of thousands of people.