Millions of people live today "in the midst of senseless conflicts" where "peace remains merely a distant dream," Pope Francis told ambassadors at the Vatican on Monday.
"For many people today, peace appears as a blessing to be taken for granted, for all intents an acquired right to which not much thought is given, Francis told the ambassadors.
"Yet, for all too many others, peace remains merely a distant dream. Millions of people still live in the midst of senseless conflicts," the pontiff continued.
"Even in places once considered secure, a general sense of fear is felt," he said.
Francis described as "vile acts" and "homicidal madness" the "fundamentalist-inspired terrorism that in the past year has also reaped numerous victims throughout the world".
The pontiff cited attacks in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, the United States of America, Tunisia and Turkey.
"These are vile acts that use children to kill, as in Nigeria, or target people at prayer, as in the Coptic Cathedral of Cairo, or travellers or workers, as in Brussels, or passers-by in the streets of cities like Nice and Berlin, or simply people celebrating the arrival of the new year, as in Istanbul," he stated.
He urged all religious leaders join him in reaffirming unequivocally that we can never kill in God's name.
"We are dealing with a homicidal madness which misuses God’s name in order to disseminate death, in a play for domination and power," Francis underlined.
"Peace is a gift, a challenge and a commitment," he concluded.