APPEAL OF PEACE 2017
After intense days of encounter and friendship, we gather together, men and women of different religions, to tell everyone of the need to open new “Paths of Peace”. The world needs them, as dearly as it needs bread, in order not to be imprisoned by its past and by fear. Entire peoples call for them, impoverished and enslaved by endless war. The victims of violence and merciless terrorism beg for them, and the refugees and the displaced, who have had to abandon their land due to conflicts and environmental disasters, plead for them.
Here we proclaim it, for everyone to hear, in the heart of a region where in the past it was possible to reconcile religions and make peace, in the heart of Europe, which needs to be more united, more open, more ready for solidarity. We need to overcome fear and prejudice, which lead to drive others away, only because they are different or unfamiliar, often without understanding their motives. For this reason, today, all believers are called to a greater audacity.
Globalization has been capable of unifying economy and trade, but not hearts and minds: we need to live out, and build, a “spiritual unification”, safe for diversity, through ongoing dialogue, leaving no one in isolation. There is so much this “spiritual unification” can give the world. It will fill the gap of the soul, it can achieve the long-awaited peace.
As representatives of the world religions, we wish to look beyond our horizons, and build a new movement of dialogue. Encounter and dialogue disarm the violent and stop them, for we know that war is never holy, and whoever kills in God’s name has no place among religions, nor among people.
We firmly say our “no” to terrorism: in the past months it has harmed too many lands and killed too many innocent people, in the North and in the South of the world.
We commit ourselves to engage in removing the root causes of many conflicts: lust for power and money, the arms trade, fanaticism, nationalism. Since the end of the Cold War, again the risk of a nuclear conflict has resurfaced in the Far East in alarming terms. What can believers do? Perhaps more than they hope and think.
First of all they can pray! Just as we have done this evening, from various places in this city and in this square: a great Prayer for Peace. But even our being together, people of different religions, which has intensified over the years, is a sign of peace and has already generated a network that prevents conflicts.
There are great expectations of us: they rise from the humble and the poor of the earth. It is a great responsibility: we cannot let hopelessness - or worse, indifference - prevail. We said so last year in Assisi, on the 30th anniversary of the first Prayer for Peace summoned by John Paul II, which the Community of Sant’Egidio has invited to repeat every year: “God’s name is peace - we read in that appeal - the one who calls upon God’s name to justify terrorism, violence and war, does not follow God’s path”. Therefore today, with God’s help and the support of many people, we solemnly commit ourselves to open new “Paths of Peace” in this world of ours.
Münster-Osnabrück, 12 September 2017