APPEAL FOR PEACE 2018
We, women and men of different religions, at the invitation of the Community of Sant’Egidio and of the Archdiocese of Bologna, gathered as pilgrims in this beautiful and hospitable city. We are driven by awareness and responsibility: peace is never acquired once and forever, it always needs to be reestablished, together, by purifying hearts and minds, by helping peoples to look one another in the eye, leaving behind the prison of fear.
Over the years that have gone along with globalization, we have lacked spiritual unification, and the dream of a world at peace has been denied by too many inequalities, by the terrible noise of new wars, by the production of new weapons – so many weapons, by the raising of walls that appeared to be overcome forever. With war, however, everyone loses, even those who originally seem to have won.
In these years the Spirit of Assisi has helped people meet with one another, and it has revealed that war in the name of religion is always war on religion. War is always a “useless slaughter”, it is against humanity itself. For this reason, with our prayer and solidarity with those who suffer in many parts of the world, we wish to bring our contribution to building “bridges of peace”. Ours are times of great opportunities, but also of too many bridges broken and new walls erected. They are times of loss of memory and waste and pollution of air, water, soil, human resources; this waste dumps unbearable burdens and bills on future generations. We have heard sorrowful memories from countries at war and testimonies from lands where frontiers, walls, and conflicts are born again.
There are great expectations of peace among the humble and the poor of the world, among those who have been hurt by life. We cannot give in to pessimism – or worse – to indifference.
There is need to change hearts and open up minds to peace. We commit ourselves to work to remove what are often the causes of many conflicts: lust for power and money, arms trading, fanaticism, exasperated nationalism, individualism, the success of one’s group as an absolute criterion, and the creation of scapegoats. We commit ourselves also to create and safeguard human relations in order to overcome loneliness, for it is becoming the principle feature of our societies. Lonely young people with no opportunity except migration, abandoned elderly people, destined to die alone, countries ignored, forgotten wars: all this drives us to a stronger joint commitment.
Like peoples, religions have several options: either they work for the spiritual unification that globalization is missing and towards a common destiny for all humanity; or they follow the times and allow themselves to be exploited to reinforce resistance to globalization, sacralizing borders, differences, identities, conflicts; or they stay behind their fences in the face of an entirely economic and soulless globalization.
The absence of dialogue, the culture of contempt, and the erection of walls make religions and the world weaker. Walls do not make people safer, rather they endanger the survival of entire communities. They deny the very heart of religions, because dialogue is a fundamental part of religions’ human and spiritual experience.
Religions are ties, communities, sharing. They are bridges, they generate community, and they recreate the human family. If we lose the sense of a common destiny, it is a defeat for humanity and for all believers. With their thousand-year-old wisdom, honed by prayer and by being in touch with human suffering, religions are living workshops of unity and humanity, and they make every man and every woman into an artisan of peace.
Today we need to change our hearts to build a future of peace. This is the starting point! We are not alone as we face this immense task. Prayer is at the root of peace, it helps us to not be overwhelmed by the present. Yes, the weak strength of prayer is the most powerful energy there is to accomplish peace even in situations where it seems impossible. For this reason we say it again: there is no future in war. May God disarm all hearts and help everyone become bridges of peace. May God help us rebuild our shared human family and love “our mother earth”. For the name of God is peace.
Bologna, 16th October 2018