Your Holiness, Distinguished Representatives of Religions, Authorities, Dear Friends,
believers of various religious traditions have gathered in Rome. While the meeting promoted by John Paul II in Assisi in 1986 was a turning point, much has been achieved since then. For those who have some familiarity with history, it is surprising to see how believers, once far apart, converge: above all they are now convinced that the issues of humanity must be addressed together and globally. I want to bear witness to the fact that the harsh lessons of the pandemic have heightened in Religions an awareness of the need to work together, as never before. I have felt it in the language and dialogue of these days: something profound has changed. Religions feel they must move forward together towards the future, because "yesterday's world no longer exists", as Patriarch Bartholomew, a keen observer of our times, said.
A common concern emerged: and that is peace! You, Holy Father, sounded the alarm: "War is not a ghost of the past, but has become a constant threat". War is never a solution. The disappearance of the witnesses of the Second World War has weakened awareness of the horror of war. The harsh relations between countries, the revaluation of force as a political tool, are an expression of a culture of violence of which a predatory policy towards the environment is part. Predators, focused on their own interests, forgetting that the common home of the earth also belongs to the generations to come. The recent pandemic has shown how people are connected and involved in a global destiny.
Faced with a world that must renew itself, limited visions and a widespread sense of powerlessness arise. This generates indifference. Religions, on the other hand, remind us that each person's behaviour is not irrelevant for their own and others' "salvation" and for that of the earth.
Their message is: "I am responsible" - said Rav Goldschmidt. The actions of individuals and collectively manifest the awakening of spiritual energies and solidarity, in the knowledge that spirituality and solidarity walk together. Religions manifest the weak strength of prayer. They promote a renewed movement of people who are responsible towards others, capable of disarming the climate that surrounds us from violence, capable of creating both small and large pathways of peace. It was good to see the contribution of so many young people during these days, who have spoken. Their voices were denied by the silence of the pandemic and the arrogance of the adults. I thank the many volunteers, young and old, who were involved in these days, who made us feel like a Community.
Our aspiration is for a world of fraternity and peace. This was well expressed in the Abu Dhabi Document, of which I greet one of the protagonists, the Great Imam Ahmed Al Tayyb, a man of great wisdom. We have lived through a painful time of pandemic, not yet over: we have seen the fragility of a world. We are at the threshold of a new world, determined to learn from the painful lessons of the history of women and men, determined to build it with everyone, especially the poor and the young.