Service to Peace: Making the World More Human
The friendship with poor people led Sant'Egidio to understand better that war is the mother of poverty. In this way love for poor people, in many situations, became work for peace, protecting it wherever it is jeopardised, helping to rebuild it, facilitating dialogue where it had been lost. The means of this service to peace and to reconciliation are the weak means of prayer, of sharing difficult situations, meeting and dialogue.
Also where it is not possible to work for peace, the Community tries to bring solidarity and humanitarian aid to the civilian populations who suffer most from war.
These are perhaps the best known aspects of Sant'Egidio, the ones the mass-media speak about most often. They rarely focus, though, on the underlying continuity of work with poor people and on its evangelical root.
Some members of the community were facilitators or mediators in Mozambique and in Guatemala, there where the fratricidal conflict lasted more than 30 years.
Africa and the Balkans, and other areas of the world which are marked by war, are also in the memory, commitment and concerns of Sant'Egidio. It was through these kinds of experiences that Sant'Egidio's belief in the "weak power" of prayer and in the transforming power of non-violence and persuasion has been born. These are attitudes that Jesus Christ himself lived to the end.
Because of this the Community is always serving ecumenical and interfaith dialogue. Since 1987 Sant'Egidio has been committed both at the grass-roots and the international level to arrange annual meetings, conferences and prayer gatherings, in the "Spirit of Assisi".
Responding to the call of the Gospel to protect life in all situations, the Community has committed itself, at an international level together with other organisations, to work for a world moratorium on all capital executions in the year 2000. This campaign represents a landmark in the struggle to affirm the value of life without exception, and it involves the members of Sant'Egidio all over the world.
This same evangelical root is at the base of other humanitarian initiatives, addressed to all people of good will, whatever their religious beliefs. These include a campaign against anti-personnel mines, aid to refugees and to war and famine victims in Southern Sudan, Burundi, Albania and Kosovo, actions to support peoples of Central America affected by Hurricane Mitch and against slavery, where it still exists.
The School of Peace in Kukes,
in the Kosovar refugee camp