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September 11 2012 19:30 | Centre of Sarajevo

Appeal of Peace

 

Men and women of different religions, we have gathered at the invitation of the Community of Sant’Egidio, of the Orthodox and Catholic Churches and of the Islamic and Jewish Communities. We have gathered in this land, beautiful and wounded by the last war fought in Europe. Many people in Sarajevo remember the sorrows of that conflict. All people in Sarajevo, and all religious and national Communities remind us all that war is a great evil and it leaves a poisoned legacy behind. With all our strength, we must avoid sliding into the dreadful spiral of hatred, violence and war. Neighbours must never find themselves fighting against each other because they belong to different religions or ethnic groups. Never again in this land! Never again in this world!


We asked ourselves whether coexistence with people of different religions or ethnic groups bears in itself the seeds of hatred and violence. No, this must not be. Even though, unfortunately, too many countries suffer because of violence, war, and insecurity. In our times different people increasingly become closer to one another geographically. However, this is not enough. We need to become close to each other emotionally. We need to do so spiritually, though our differences in terms of religion remain.


We are different. But our unanimous conviction is this: living together is possible, all over the world, and it bears much fruit. It is possible in Sarajevo and everywhere. The future must be prepared with responsibility. And religions have a great responsibility in this respect. In these days in Sarajevo we have lived the grace of dialogue and seen how to build the future.


Today, however, in a time of economic crisis, the temptation to withdraw into oneself is strong, or even to blame other peoples for one’s problems, whether past or present. A people then turns into an alien, even into an enemy. Dangerous cultures of resentment, hatred, and fear grow. But no people is ever an enemy: all peoples have suffered, they all have a good soul! They can all live together!


Religions have a great task: they speak of God to the heart of human beings and liberate them from hatred, prejudice and fear, opening them up to love. They can change men and women from within. Religions can teach every man, every woman, and every people the art of living together through dialogue, mutual esteem, respect of freedom and difference, thus creating a more human world. Because we are all equal, and we are all different.
We need to face our difficulties with a new courage. Turning our eyes far ahead, we must create in dialogue a language made of empathy, friendship, and compassion. This common language will enable us to talk to each other, beholding the beauty of differences and the value of equality. Living together in peace is God’s will. Hatred, division, violence, massacres and genocides, do not come from God. Let us ask God in prayer for the gift of peace. Yes, may God grant the world, and us all, the marvellous gift of peace!

Sarajevo, 11th September 2012

Message of His Holiness Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI

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Sarajevo 2012