September 12 2023 18:00 | Berlin

Speech of Marco Impagliazzo

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Marco Impagliazzo

Historian, President of the Community of Sant’Egidio
With intense feelings, I take the floor here, where history - for good and for bad- has spoken so much. I ask myself, we ask ourselves: does a meeting, like ours, also enter the history of this city? And, we could add – as we have heard from the wise words of the representatives of the religions who have spoken in these days –: is our encounter not provoking a movement, small, perhaps, but decisive, a movement destined to become a long wave, a wave of good for many peoples?
In all humility, I believe so.
Even when we do not realise it, in history there are profound movements that cause changes, transformations that only at a certain point emerge clear and evident. Today we are in one of those -almost miraculous- moments when everything appears clearer to us.
It seems to me that after 37 years of walking, from Assisi to Berlin, we have to say that something profound has really changed in the world of religions. It is here that another wall has fallen. Yes: a wall of distrust, ignorance and a sense of superiority towards each other has fallen. Today, after so many years walking together, we see this wall that separated us fall. Religions, in their diversity, have learned to coexist, to be complementary and supportive, not to fight each other anymore, not to compete with each other, but rather to stand together, side by side. This historical breakthrough occurred because religions made peace their shared language. That is, they believed in the power of the word to change them: a word of peace, friendly, respectful and mild but that possesses a great historical strength.
Today we speak the same language, the language of peace!
It is a great achievement with which we present ourselves even more credible in the face of this world: more credible in the face of politics, diplomacy, culture. States today are more distant from each other than religions are. So we are more credible in front of our people and in front of the world.
The desire for peace today acquires greater credibility precisely because we observe with sadness, and sometimes with horror, how much peace has been wasted, mistreated, trampled on in so many situations. And this causes great suffering in people. We felt the urgency of such pain and worked on ourselves to become, all together, disciples of peace.
Today we say it with renewed energy: religions are not a residual phenomenon, something from the past, from yesterday’s world, they make history in the present, and, purified by so many mistakes and labours, they look to the future of the world. This is a great richness that gives hope to peoples.
Religions tell the world that peace is possible, even where there seems to be no room for peace, no other way out. Religions say that history can change, because prayer to the Almighty puts the world in the hands of those who have overcome the impossible.
We have heard in these days so many beautiful things, words full of hope, which have turned into an unexpected resource that was revealed to us. We see with our own eyes what Andrea Riccardi defines as the surprises of the story. Yes, history is full of surprises. In Berlin we were amazed and filled with joy to see another wall fall.
We are different, but we are stronger and more supportive together, united in the search for peace and the esteem that believers have learned to have for each other.
It is this surprise of history that creates a common future. We can but rejoice for this together. Here we behold a great resource for world peace that gives us hope.