(from our correspondent in Bologna) – “We cannot resign ourselves to the daemon of war, to the madness of terrorism, to the deceptive force of weapons that devour life. We cannot let indifference take possession of men, making them accomplices of evil, of that terrible evil that is war, whose cruelty is paid for above all by the poorest and the weakest”. Pope Francis wrote this in a message addressed to the Archbishop of Bologna, Mgr. Matteo Zuppi, which was read out yesterday afternoon at the opening of the International Meeting “Bridges of Peace”, promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio. The meeting, which will last until 16 October, brings together, in the “Spirit of Assisi”, hundreds of leaders of the great world religions and representatives from the world of culture and institutions.
According to Pope Francis, the title chosen this year, “Bridges of Peace”, is “an invitation to create connections that lead to real meetings, to tie bonds that unite, and to follow paths that help overcome conflicts and hatred. In a globalised world, where unfortunately it seems easier and easier to increase distances and close ourselves in our own interests, we are called to work together to unite people and peoples”. The Pope made an appeal to religious leaders, saying: “It is urgent to work out together memories of communion that heal the wounds of history, it is urgent to weave plots of peaceful coexistence for the future”. “We cannot shirk our responsibility as believers, called, all the more so in today’s global village, to have at heart the good of all and not to be content with our own peace. If religions do not pursue ways of peace, they deny themselves. They can only build bridges, in the name of the One who never tires of joining Heaven and earth. Our differences must not, therefore, set us against one another: the hearts of those who truly believe exhort us to open, always and everywhere, ways of communion”.
Pope Francis’ words were listened to by the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmad el-Tayeb; the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II; the Chief Rabbi of France, Haim Korsia; the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani; and by former president of the European Commission Romano Prodi. Attending the three-day meeting of dialogue and exchange are also three bishops from the People’s Republic of China, Joseph Shen Bin, Bishops of Haimen; Antony Dang Mingyan, Bishop of Xi’an; and Joseph Yang Yongqiang, Bishop of Zhoucun.
The Pope reminded religious leaders that the Synod on Young People is underway in Rome: “As believers, we cannot but feel the urgency to listen to the strong cry for peace that rises from their hearts and build together that future which belongs to them. Therefore, there is a need to build bridges between the generations, bridges on which we can walk hand in hand and listen to each other”.
“Passion for peace – Pope Francis concluded – makes everyone younger where it really matters: in the heart. Today, by embracing one another, men and women of different creeds and generations show that, with God’s help, building peace together is possible. That is the way to follow. I thank you and wish you a good journey, for the good of all”.