Eminences, Excellences, Distinguished guests, dear friends,
dear indeed, because when we build bridges and feel the joy to cross them, we better understand that the other is our friend. Only bridges allow what makes life blossom, and paint it colorful, in a word: friendship! We not need to go too far to build bridges. Indeed, the endeavor starts from us, when we stretch out our hand, taking the risk, but also when we accept the hand of the brother who is stretching to me. We discovered that no man is cursed to be an island, and that we all strive not to be alone. Only together, we can face the daunting challenge of countering division, war, of the brother who raises his hands against his kin and, ultimately, kills both his brother and himself. There are those who think they gain by taking advantage of sowing prejudices and words of judgement and hostility. They forget the same may turn into seeds, and subsequent actions, bearing fruits of division that eventually will affect everybody. This is how hatred and violence kick-start.
At the end of these days, we have become more and more aware of our duty of – notwithstanding our age – building bridges and providing for their maintenance! We have listened to countless words of suffering. We identified ourselves in the lament for the shedding of Abel’s blood. We felt directly challenged by God’s question to man: “Where is your brother?” We are our brothers and sisters’ keepers. Peace is not a heroic act, after which we get back to sleep with indifference. Neither is peace a matter for naive people. In fact, naïve is the optimism of those who refuse to acknowledge. Bridges demand patience, time, skills, systems, courage and much love.
Therefore, thank you, Community of Sant’Egidio, thanks for this gift, a heritage of human knowledge with many opportunities for peace. Thanks for the passion of keeping on going! Let us put aside what divides us: bridges are the global goods of this beautiful and unique place –our world. Peace is a portico that protects all.
Dear friends, in what I would define as a peace worksite, we discussed many aspects. How many! Peace has so many meanings, likewise life. It requires the contribution of all of us, young and old, believers and humanists, men and women, old and new Europeans, Africans, Asians, North Americans and Latin Americans! In joy and brotherhood, we welcomed you all in Bologna and we wholeheartedly thank you for these days. Shared gifts become everyone’s property: this is the secret of these days and the true pathway towards peace. Thanks to your presence, the world has flooded the streets, squares, porticoes of our city! This evening, I say, we thank you all, we thank all those whose contribution and effort made this possible! You made this city of ours the capital city of peace! Thank you!
The rainbow portrayed on this stage is the sign of our unity, not because we are alike, rather because we are different. The rainbow merges different colors in one single light. It is a bridge in itself, connecting heaven and earth, as well as any two points on the planet. Today we want this light to bring hope and shine in those dark places where a piecemeal world war is being waged. We want to overcome walls, and reach higher, thanks to faith stemming from passion and from the intelligence of love that turns the enemy into a friend, brings close those who are far away, and makes possible what seems too difficult.
I am convinced that we will continue to disseminate listening, comprehension, friendship, while aware to be part of one single family. We are less frightened, because we witnessed that all this is possible. Let’s don’t be confused by those who say: it is not worthwhile, there will be problems. We are fully aware! Problems can be dealt with, and we do not fear to make sacrifices, because our desire is peace to grow. As a Christian, I follow the teaching of God: to love my enemy and to lay down my life - not to fight people, but their enemy: evil. Peace is for everybody and cannot be split. There is no life nor future without peace! As Pope Francis said us here in Bologna, really we have started to dream high, with open eyes and in daylight, to overcome the night of war and barbarism. God bless us. In nearly all languages, the greeting is always the same, when people meet: Peace be with you. That’s it. It is the gift of these days. Peace be with you all.