ROMA – For years we have been witnessing wars that no one seems to have the strength or will to stop, like the conflict in Syria which everyday generates new victims, increasing the desperation of the civilian population and pitting ethnic and religious groups one against the other, which until recently lived in a context of coexistence.
If the international community is unable to impose a mere humanitarian truce it will be necessary to organize a grass-roots mobilization which can give voice to the many people who view emigration as their only way out, at the cost of perilous crossings into Europe.
Upon the proposal of the Community of Sant’Egidio, together with the Catholic and Orthodox Churches of Albania, the major religions of the world took the initiative of holding an international conference “PEACE IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE – Religions and Culture in dialogue”, scheduled to take place in Tirana from September 6th to 8th. A major event in the “spirit of Assisi” - the first international Prayer for Peace summoned by Pope John Paul II in 1986 in St. Francis’ city – which will have special meaning this year, not only because of the current scene of wars and conflicts, but also because of the growth of a new subject represented by the pacifist force of religions opposed to violence with concrete and viable proposals.
An important message from Pope Francis is expected at the inaugural assembly. For three days thereafter tens of panel discussions will be held with the most important religious leaders of Europe and the Mediterranean, Asia and Africa together with major cultural figures and representatives of institutions: the latter will receive a forceful appeal for the immediate achievement of a humanitarian truce and for the complex but urgent job of peace-building. All international organizations will be consulted, particularly Europe, which finds itself at a cross-roads: close its borders and become sadly obsolete or accept the new challenges it faces which, like that of peace, involve acceptance and integration.
The event will also have a grass-roots nature: everyday a growing number of people - coming from every part of Europe and elsewhere – will arrive as pilgrims in the Albanian capital to attend the meetings.
Why Albania? Because the construction of peace must start at the outskirts. Last year Pope Francis started visiting Europe from here. This little country, which has the largest Muslim population on the continent, has today become a model of co-existence between religions and cultures, an interesting laboratory where topics regarding peace will be discussed for three days, topics like sustainable development, environmental emergencies (which regard the entire planet as well as the livability of areas surrounding the metropolises of the world) and social inequality.
There will also be a lot of testimony from the countries in conflict, like Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Mindanao (Philippines) and Libya so that their voices may be heard and contribute to the achievement of peace
Follow the meeting with the hashtag #peaceispossible
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