This ceremony represents the joyful conclusion of three days of dialogue, prayer and friendship.
All continents are represented, and especially those world regions who at this moment are threatened by the dark clouds of war and violence. My mind goes to Ukraine and to the Middle East, and particularly to Syria, Iraq and to the Holy Land. This meeting was attended not only by high representatives, but also by many youth coming from Belgium and other countries. Their future is our common concern. Did we change the world during these days? No. Yet we tried to draw from the best of our respective religious and moral traditions: we believe that love is stronger than evil, that forgiveness bears more fruits than hardening, that dialogue is more robust than war.
Honorable representatives of the Civil Authorities,
Honorable representatives of all Churches and communities,
Honorable representatives of major world religions and denominations,
Dear members and friends of the Community of Sant`Egidio,
Dear participants to this international meeting “Peace is the future”,
I would like to thank you for having contributed to the success of these meetings.
I thank prof. Andrea Riccardi and the Community of Sant’Egidio worldwide. Without their vision, competence and passion this meeting never would have taken place. In my capacity as bishop of Antwerp, I would like to convey special thanks to the Community of Sant’Egidio of Antwerp of whom I am proud and whom I esteem. I sincerely thank Ms. Hilde Kieboom and all the members, friends and cooperators of the community in Antwerp, who worked to realise this meeting. It is a unique and tremendous endeavor that you managed to accomplish. We can be proud of this.
I also thank all representatives of world religions and denominations that convened in Antwerp for this meeting. In this world, it is not easy to work together and build bridges of dialogue. Perhaps someone may consider us naive. I commend you for continuing to believe in the “Spirit of Assisi” in your respective countries and communities.
I finally thank all participants from Belgium and most especially from the Antwerp region. We are striving, not only far away from here, but also at home, to build a society in which people of different religions and denominations may esteem each other and live in friendship. Especially in our own area, we should not avoid our responsibility. Thank you for your valued presence and contribution.
“Peace is the future”. Thank you very much and have a good journey back home!