Dear friends of peace, both close and far!
As the Catholic bishop of Osnabrück, I greet you with great joy in this historical place, at the closing of our meeting for peace this year.
The Peace of Vestfalia was proclaimed on 25th October 1648 in Münster and Osnabrück, exactly in this place, after thirty years of bloody clashes. Long and hard negotiations finally opened the path to the living together of confessions and political powers. This path had a high significance for German and European history, and well beyond this continent.
People sang the choral song full of gratitude and joy: ‘Bless Yahweh, my soul, from the depths of my being, his holy name… Yahweh acts with uprightness, with justice to all who are oppressed’ (Psalm 102).
We are all aware of the frailty of this peace and how many wars and what violence have followed. Up to today, where at stake there are not only the living together of the Christian confessions, even more the living together among religions, rather the living together among all peoples either belonging or not to any religion.
Today is 12th September 2017. In our world shaken by violence, terror, and disagreement, in a time where religion is abused to justify murders and attacks, we gather together again, in this place of peace in Osnabrück. People from all over the world have come in hope and in faith of the ever growing power of good, in trust of the ever growing power of a God that wants peace. We want to sing too - ‘Bless Yahweh, my soul..’.
During these days, the encounter among many representatives of different religions, coming from countries that are political enemies, fuel the yearning for peace in justice for the whole world. They clearly show the great positive power of religions for a peaceful living together of all peoples. Indeed, today the networks of peace – that we are also weaving thanks to the invaluable support of the Community of Sant’Egidio – today these networks of peace are essential for the surviving of the world, where peace is threatened by the ruthless networks of injustice, violence, and terror.
Here, networks of peace are intertwined to face the disturbing networks of evil, that terrify us every day. Here, among us, people of every origin and culture intertwine in a network to build a better future for the human family and the creation.
Every religion, every community feeling the responsibility of humankind and nature in front of the face of someone bigger, rather The Biggest, contributes pricelessly to the vision of peace in justice. We take conscience of it fully thanks to the international meeting for peace. Pope Francis in his message for the fiftieth day for peace in 2017 has again strongly highlighted: ‘No religion is terrorist. Violence profanes the name of God. Let us never tire of repeating: The name of God cannot be used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war! (…) may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home. “Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace’.
Everyone can be an artisan of peace. I heartfelt thank you all, contributing to the edification of peace in the world. I truly hope you all can bring with you from Münster – Osnabrück a great encouragement for the promotion of this purpose. Indeed, let’s nurture the profound trust in God after we go back and in our daily life, the trust that was sung in the choral song in 1648 concluding: ‘We will obtain it and we believe it from the bottom of our heart!’. This is our hope: we will have peace! Thanks to all that have made this meeting possible.
Be the blessing extended to this hour and from here to the whole world! Be blessed all those who gathered here to defeat hatred and discord! Let God’s blessing, that goes beyond every comprehension, give you strength and be with you always!