October 5 2010 19:40 | Old Town


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Men and women of different religions, coming from many parts of the world, we gathered in Barcelona, a land where art celebrates the beauty of the family of God and of the family of peoples, to invoke from the Most High the great gift of peace.

A difficult decade lies behind us. During these years the world has believed more in confrontation and conflict than in dialogue and peace. We are aware of the fears of many men and women in many parts of the world, of the sorrow of wars that have not led to peace, of the wounds caused by terrorism, of the unease of societies affected by the employment crisis and by uncertainty regarding the future; we are aware of the suffering of many poor people who knock on the doors of a richer world but often find closed doors and distrust.

Our world is disoriented by the crisis of the markets, which were believed to be all powerful, and by globalization, at times soulless and faceless. Globalization is an historical opportunity; it unites distant worlds. But it needs to find a generous inspiration. On the contrary, it has been accompanied by fear, war, by distrust of the other, by the fear of losing one’s identity.

A new decade must begin; the globalized world must become a family of peoples. This world needs a soul. But most of all it needs peace. Peace is the name of God. It is not something superficial; it comes from the depth of every religious tradition. Whoever exploits the name of God as a pretext to hate or humiliate the other is forsaking true religion. Whoever invokes the name of God to wage war or to justify violence is against God. No right or wrong can ever justify the elimination of the other. From the depth of our religious traditions, from different stories and from our prayer one beside the other, we can say to the world: we need to live a common destiny together. Religions bear witness that a common destiny for peoples and human beings does exist. That destiny is called peace.

Dialogue is the means to achieve that common destiny called peace. Dialogue is the way to recover it and to build it. It protects each of us and preserves our humanity in times of crisis. Dialogue is not naivety. It is the ability to look far in the distance, when everyone is short-sighted and therefore feels lonely, hopeless and scared. Dialogue does not weaken anyone, rather it fortifies. It is the true alternative to violence. Nothing is lost with dialogue. Everything becomes possible, even to envision peace. In a society where different people live more and more together, it is necessary to learn the art of dialogue. Dialogue does not weaken anyone’s identity, but it allows one to rediscover the best in oneself and in the other. Our societies need to learn again the art of living together.

After these days, we are more and more convinced that a world without dialogue is not a better world. We need peace but there is no peace without dialogue. Peace is the greatest gift of God. Peace needs prayer. No hatred, no conflict, no wall can resist prayer, and patient love that becomes gift and forgiveness, while prayer educates to build a world where not everything is a market, and what matters cannot be bought or sold.

We want to enter the new decade in the strength of the Spirit, to create a time of hope for the world. There is need of hope, and we have hope. Our hope comes from afar and looks towards the future. A common destiny is the only one possible.

May this be the decade of peace, of dialogue and of hope.

Barcelona, 5th October 2010