This interview was one I will not forget. This week, I spoke to the Rev. Canon Andrew White, an Anglican priest who is pastor of St. George's Church. That sounds rather ordinary until you learn that his church is in Baghdad, Iraq. In fact, it is the only Anglican church in all of Iraq.
War is just "senseless slaughter" and should never be seen as inevitable or a done deal, Pope Francis said.
"War drags people into a spiral of violence which then proves difficult to control; it tears down what generations have labored to build up, and it sets the scene for even greater injustices and conflicts," he said in a written message to a world summit of religious leaders.
"War is never a necessity, nor is it inevitable. Another way can always be found: the way of dialogue, encounter and the sincere search for truth," he wrote.
Former Israeli President Shimon Peres asked Pope Francis to head a parallel United Nations called the "United Religions" to counter religious extremism in the world today.
A small c catholic: Ever since 9/11, Americans have been blitzed with anti-Islam messages, some vicious, some subtle, but all seeking to discredit the faith.
"Sadly, in recent years, there has been a deliberate rejection of this call to engage in dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters by some in the Catholic Church."
Pope Francis will be accompanied on his first visit to the Middle East by Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka and Muslim leader Omar Abboud -- two friends from Buenos Aires.
It is the first time a pope has made an official visit accompanied by members of other faiths, and it underscores the interfaith focus of Francis' trip to the Holy Land, the Vatican said Thursday.
Commentary: Maybe the millennials will find or create secular equivalents to churches. But those alternatives will have to match the depth and motivational force of religion.
When I turn on NPR these days or pick up The Washington Post, I find myself sighing and saddened. There are wars or regular violent attacks in Syria, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, South Sudan and eastern Ukraine. Violence can break out any time in Pakistan, Lebanon or Egypt.
In the United States, there were the shooting deaths of three people at two Jewish-run facilities in Overland Park, Kan.
A small c catholic: "While some of us have been active in interfaith groups that promote religious harmony and understanding, others have bought into fear and have promoted prejudices."
Pope Francis is making a difference in the world of interfaith relations on several fronts. The latest comes from Egypt. According to a report from Catholic News Service, officials at Al-Azhar University in Egypt are ready to restart a Muslim-Catholic dialogue.