Distinguished authorities, cardinals, bishops, eminent religious leaders and representatives, greetings to all.
I wholeheartedly thank the Community of Sant’Egidio for having invited me here. Together with my fellow bishops, Mgr. Yang Yongqiang, Mgr. Dang Mingyan and Fr. Zhang Qiulin, I travelled from China to Bologna to take part to this landmark world Conference for peace.
Allow me to say something about the word ‘peace’: in our Chinese language this word embeds the concepts of reconciliation and negotiation, aimed at managing differences and solving conflicts between people, communities, ethnic groups, Countries.
All may know that Pope Francis in his recent message to the Catholics of China stated that only through the practice of dialogue we can come to know one another, respect one another and walk together for the sake of building a common future of sublime harmony.
During the opening ceremony of this meeting, many expressed the idea that each and every religious community cannot put aside the quest for peace, highlighting the icon of the porticoes of this beautiful town of Bologna, protecting people from wind and rain, and connect hearts and minds. The foundation of peace is mercy: today people from all over the world in theory agree with the principle of non-violence, but problems are still there.
We witness a landscape of wars, in Asia and the Middle East, of ethnic conflict in Africa and elsewhere, of nuclear menaces, of unforeseeable terrorist strikes, of refugees and migrants compelled to leave, of commercial wars opposing countries: the world is full with unrest and conflict.
Happily many people of goodwill, with high ideals, relentlessly cry out for peace in the world. For example the Community of Sant’Egidio undertook tremendous efforts to cultivate and promote peace in several areas of the world. We pay tribute to them for their endeavors.
On 22 September, thanks to the painstaking efforts of dialogue by both parties, China and the Holy See signed an agreement on the nomination process of bishops, aimed at fully integrating the Chinese Church in the Universal Church: it has been the dream of many popes, and also our desire. Through dialogue, a bridge of peace was built, toppling a wall which had stood up for seventy years. Thanks to this bridge, this year, for the first time in history, two Chinese bishops are participating in a Synod. For the first time in seventy years, the universality of the Church is enriched by their presence.
These are all positive signs, lights in the darkness providing for new hopes. Jesus taught us that “it is from the human heart that evil intentions come” (Mk. 7:21), thus, in order to attain peace we need to change our heart, accept to be shaped by the Holy Spirit, abandon any kind of prejudice and spirit of condemnation. Because even if “I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2).
I thank the organizers of this meeting for having given me the opportunity of addressing you, I am moved for this, and I regard this occasion as a call to the Church in China to take, with increased determination, the path of reconciliation and peace. It is also a call to perform a more active role for the cause of world peace.
Finally, I look forward to you coming one day to China, a warm and welcoming country, to witness yourselves to what extent openness brought about social and economic prosperity, to witness how people live and work in peace, and how the Church grows in harmony. Welcome to China!