Pope warns of 'domino effect' from war

·2-min read

Pope Francis on Thursday sounded the alarm over the "domino effect" of conflict on international relations at the end of a religious summit that urged leaders to refrain from warmongering.

"Peace is urgent, because any military conflict or outbreak of tension and confrontation today can only have an adverse 'domino effect' and gravely threaten the system of international relations," the pope said.

The 85-year-old pontiff issued the warning at the end of the seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.

The inter-faith gathering, held every three years, brought together around 100 delegations from 50 countries.

Those attending the two-day forum in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan included the great imam of Al-Azhar, the highest institution of Sunni Islam.

In a final statement, the meeting urged leaders "to abandon all aggressive and destructive rhetoric which leads to destabilization of the world, and to cease from conflict and bloodshed."

The 35-point declaration made no reference, however, to the nearly seven-month conflict in Ukraine.

The statement also declared support for "protecting the rights and dignity of women (and) improving their social status as equal members of family and society."

The pope made a personal appeal for women to be given "greater roles and responsibilities."

"How many deaths would be avoided if women were at the centre of decision-making!" he declared.

"Let us work for them to be more respected, acknowledged and involved."

Since being elected pope in 2013, Francis has appointed more women to senior positions within the Vatican's government, but none has ministerial rank.

Of the roughly 80 representatives seated around a vast round table at the Palace of Independence in Nur-Sultan, only half a dozen were women.

On Thursday, the pope visited the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral where he delivered a speech to warm applause from local clergy.

He was to leave later for Rome, arriving around 1830 GMT.