Distinguished religious leaders and dear friends,
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to convey the testimony of the Youth for Peace of the Community of Sant'Egidio, and of a city, Barcelona, which has been profoundly affected by terrorism.
Las Ramblas, one of the symbols of my home town, was struck by a river of blood that affected men and women of all ages from 34 countries in the world. On Thursday, the 17th of August, everything stopped, there was a deep silence, and the sadness gripped the city. The response to that pain, to the memory of the victims, and to the misunderstanding of such a horrible action, came the following day with a minute of silence and the spontaneous expression of the whole city shouting "We are not afraid".
In a few days, Las Ramblas, our highstreet, was filled with a tide of messages written on colour cards, candles and flowers, expressing a desire for peace that re-designed a new mosaic of diversity on the very mosaic that Joan Miró designed on the floor of Las Ramblas to welcome all those who arrive by sea. The answer was not hatred or revenge, but words of peace, coexistence and prayer.
A week later, an impressive demonstration of peace crossed the streets of Barcelona. "I'm not afraid" was the response of the city, which expressed in this way its wish that terrorism would never strike the coexistence of Christians and Muslims, or the desire to live together in peace. A demonstration of the Muslim community was an important and significant manifestation of solidarity.
Barcelona, and in fact the whole world, felt again the dark force of evil. Terrorists want to sow division by spreading hatred and fear. History wanted the path of the Youth for Peace of Sant'Egidio to meet at the crossroads with the terrorist attack. Over 500 young Europeans were attending our annual meeting in those days. We were there all together, united; we witnessed the suffering of a city just hit by terrorism. We did not shutter ourselves in fear, nor did we flee away at the sight of pain. Indeed, together we have found the strength to be a subject of peace in the midst of a city full of uncertainties and perplexity. With our appeal for peace, we have spoken out loud "no to revenge and hatred", and we offered a flower tribute to the victims of Las Ramblas, a gesture made by young people from 14 different countries.
In those days we did not hear any response of hate or revenge. Because we are convinced of the path of peace we have undertaken: building bridges of friendship and solidarity with the refugees and the new Europeans, breaking down the walls of isolation of so many elderly people, supporting the fragility of the homeless and prisoners, making sure that all children have same opportunities in the Schools of Peace...
We dream of building a world in peace and fair for everyone. It is legitimate to have dreams. The dreams of young people for a world in peace are legitimate. We ask you to support this dream!
Today, here in Münster, we Youth for Peace want to offer our friendship as a way of peace. Our response to evil is to be united. Together we are happier and stronger to respond with good to the evil carried out by a few. If a few can do so much evil, it is also true that a few can do so much good. That is why we are here and take our responsibilities.
We hope the road to global friendship helps to live together in peace and build a better world for everyone, where no one is forgotten or left aside.