Dear Holy Father Francis,
dear brothers and sisters,
The Church of Assisi embraces you with affection as we once again live the emotion for the great prophecy that was expressed in this same place by St John Paul II: the prophecy of the “spirit of Assisi”.
A spirit of prayer, understanding, and peace that aims at being an answer in a world darkened by many wars. Wars that sometimes, improperly, even blasphemously and in satanic ways, weave religious banners.
In Assisi - where young Francis distanced himself from the spirit of the world to be one with Christ and his brothers, becoming a man of peace - our reflection and prayer have cried out once again: No to the culture of war, and yes to the culture of peace.
During this year, Holy Father, You have taught us to live this culture of peace as the culture of mercy. That is a culture of love, capable of caring, of being moved, and of forgiving, according to the Evangelical beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”.
During these days, by practicing and testifying to our religious beliefs, by respectfully listening to other’s, we have experienced true friendship.
But we need to go further. Our friendship must turn into a contribution for a world-scale policy of brotherhood.
Is it possible for humanity to perceive itself as one single family? We believers think it is possible. This is the motive for our work, while we search for what unites us together and disregard what divides us.
The model of St Francis of Assisi helps us greatly. The “spirit of Assisi” is connected to his life and message.
His very same greeting – “May the Lord give you peace” – was not only a wish, but a prayer for peace. It expressed the belief that true peace is a gift from above, while maintaining our responsibility.
May God, Who is mercy, look upon the “thirst for peace” of our world.
To You, Holy Father, and to all of you who are here, I offer my brotherly embrace and wish you peace.