To His Eminence
Cardinal Carlos OSORO SIERRA
Archbishop of Madrid
and to the participants to the Meeting of Prayer for Peace
“Peace without Borders”
Madrid, September 15-17, 2019
With joy and gratitude I greet Cardinal Carlos Osoro Sierra, Archbishop of Madrid, and you all, representatives of the Churches and the Christian Communities and the world Religions, gathered in Madrid for the XXXIII Meeting of Prayer for Peace, organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio together with the Archdiocese of Madrid. It is a source of joy to see this pilgrimage of peace, which began after the World Day of Prayer for Peace, summoned by Saint John Paul II in Assisi in October 1986, has never been interrupted, rather continues and grows in the number of participants and in its fruits of good. This pilgrimage has travelled through counties and cities to bear witness of the strength of the “spirit of Assisi”, which is prayer to God and promotion of peace among peoples.
This year its itinerary reaches Madrid, to reflect on the theme “Peace without Borders”. The mind flies to the past, when, thirty years ago, the Berlin Wall fell in the heart of Europe and the division of the continent, which caused so much suffering, was put to an end. From Berlin to the whole Eastern Europe, new hopes for peace were lit up that day, then spreading all over the world. It was, indeed, the prayer for peace of many sons and daughters of God that had contributed to accelerate the fall of the wall. Moreover, the biblical history of Jericho reminds us that the walls fall when they are “besieged” by prayer and not by weapons, with yearnings for peace and not for conquest, when we dream for a good future for all. For this reason it is necessary to pray constantly and to dialogue in the perspective of peace: the fruits will come! Let’s not be afraid, because the Lord listens to the prayer of his faithful people!
Unfortunately, over the first two decades of the XXI century, we have witnessed, with great sadness, the waste of the gift of God that is the peace, which has been dissipated by new wars and by new walls and barriers being raised. After all, we are very aware peace must continuously grow from generation to generation, through the dialogue, the encounter and the negotiation. If one seeks for the good of peoples and the world, it is then illogical to bind the space, to divide peoples, or, even worse, to fight each other, to deny hospitality to those in need. This way the world “falls apart”, by using the same violence with which we spoil the environment and damage our common house, which, instead, needs love, care, respect, as much as humanity calls for peace and brotherhood. The common house does not bear walls separating and creating conflicts amongst its inhabitants. Rather it needs open doors facilitating the communication, the encounter, the cooperation to live together in peace, while respecting the differences and strengthening the bonds of responsibility. Peace is like a house with many rooms where we all are called to live in. Peace has no borders. Always, without exception. This was the longing of Saint John XXIII who, in a difficult time, decided to address all believers and people of goodwill by invoking “peace in all lands”.
Distinguished representatives of the Churches and the Christian Communities, and of the great world Religions, through this greeting I want to tell you that I am at your side during these days and together with you, I call for peace from the Only One who can give it to us. In the tradition of these International Meetings of Prayer for Peace – like the one in Assisi in 2016 I participated to – the prayer that rises up to God has the essential and most determining place. We are united by a common feeling, without any confusion. Next to each other, without confusion! As the longing for peace is common, across the variety of experiences and religious traditions.
As believers we are aware prayer is the root of peace. Those who practice it are friends of God, like Abraham was, a model of the man of faith and hope. The prayer for peace, in this time marked by so many conflicts and violence, unites us all even more, beyond all differences, in the shared commitment for a more fraternal world.
We are aware that brotherhood among believers, besides being a barrier against enmity and wars, is also leaven of brotherhood among peoples. In this spirit, last February I signed, together with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the Document on “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” in Abu Dhabi: it is an important step on the path to world peace. Together we stated that «religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood». I wish to also entrust you all, who participate to this meeting of Prayer for Peace, with the proposals of that document. The spirit of Assisi too, 800 years after the encounter of Saint Francis and the Sultan, has inspired the work that led us to the event in Abu Dhabi.
We are living in a difficult time for the world. We must come together – I would say, with one single heart and one single voice – to shout that peace has no borders. A cry that rises from our own hearts. Indeed, it is there, in the hearts, where we must eradicate the borders that divide and put one against the other; it is in the hearts where we must sow feeling of peace and brotherhood.
Distinguished representatives of the Churches and the Christian Communities and the world great Religions, men and women of goodwill participating to this Meeting, the great task of peace has been handed over to you too. May the God of peace bestow us with abundance of wisdom, audacity, generosity, and perseverance.
Vatican, September 13, 2019