September 17 2019 20:00 | Almudena Square

Speech of Marco Impagliazzo

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Marco Impagliazzo

President of the Community of Sant’Egidio

In Madrid, we experienced intense days of friendship and reflection on the theme “Peace without borders”. All of us in this final ceremony do enjoy the beauty of a borderless world, without having to give up to our respective traditions, convictions or identities. We did not hide behind a mask, nor we lowered the bar in order to achieve a cheap agreement. The pride of our diversity is not at all in conflict with the beauty of unity in peace.

We prayed in different places, as different as religions are. Confusion and syncretism are not appropriate for the faithful. Yet, we did not pray the one against the other. Nor did we pray forgetful of the other. Tonight, in the heart of Madrid, a query turns into a cry and an invocation, and flows from the fountains of prayer, from the humanist consciousness: may peace come, a great peace beyond all borders!

There is just one heaven! People address heaven by prayer: in despair, in joy, taking shelter under a shellfire in Syria, in worship - practiced in churches, synagogues, mosques, temples. Heaven is not subject to borders. The God of heaven and earth, of peace and mercy, is the God of all. Suffering men and women, oppressed by poverty, disease, wars, natural disasters, stretch out their hands in search of salvation, regardless of colour, ethnicity, nation, or distinctive signs. We take our stand for them: their cry cannot be confined behind walls, laying in indifference. 

Peace that comes from prayer pours out of the heart, spilling over to the neighbour and to the world. No one can take peace away from our hearts. Such peace is stronger, and more compelling than violence, than the arrogance of money or of vested interests.

In the global world, a decent life is possible provided we have a home - nation, language, culture. But the world is a global village with many different dwelling places: it is the common home. We call it “oecumene”: a very meaningful word, the etymon signifying the “home where we all dwell”. It is the civilization of living together. From Madrid, we commit ourselves to consider the house of the neighbour not as the house of the stranger, but as the house of my kin. “All relatives – all different” – used to say a survivor of the Nazi lager. Only by building countless bridges of dialogue, a river of peace will flow through the houses of the global village.

Today the environment is in a very bad shape: this is a compelling case for a common home. Today we express our solidarity with the peoples of Amazonia. The air we breathe is not subject to customs: it is the same air for all. Young people very well understood this point, and they are rallying all over the world with generosity standing for a liveable planet. I note that quite many youth participated to this meeting in Madrid!

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin wall, “Peace without borders” equates to repudiating any type of wall. Men and women of religion should take over the historical and prophetical task of breaking barriers and unifying worlds apart. They will do so drawing from the weak strength of prayer, dialogue, encounter. So that there may be peace without borders. Such peace will free us from the arrogance of solitude and of supremacy; it will pursue dialogue where there is war; it will invest in co-operation to fight against severe poverty; it will take responsibility for the countless migrants, refugees, displaced that seek for a better place in this world. God will never divide - God unites. 

Actually our mission is not over, and there are new challenges to address.