At the Opening Ceremony of the Interreligious Meeting Peace is the Future the bishop of Antwerp, Mons. Bonny, directed the following words of Pope Francis to the organizers and participants:
‘I thank the Diocese of Antwerp and the Community of Sant’Egidio for organizing this meeting, where men and women of different religious traditions assemble on a pilgrimage of prayer and dialogue, inspired by the ‘Spirit of Assisi'.
The pope stressed that ‘war is never a satisfactory means of redressing injustice and achieving balanced solutions to political and social discord’ and he added that ‘war drags peoples into a spiral of violence which then proves difficult to control; it tears down what generations have laboured to build up and it sets the scene for even greater injustices and conflicts.
The pope launched an urgent appeal: ‘Our various religious traditions can, “in the spirit of Assisi”, make a specific contribution to peace. It is my hope that these days of prayer and dialogue will serve as a powerful reminder that the pursuit of peace and understanding through prayer can forge lasting bonds of unity and prevail over the passions of war.
The time has come for religious leaders to cooperate more effectively in the work of healing wounds, resoving conflicts and pursuing peace. Peace is the sure sign of a commitment to the cause of God. Religieous leaders are called to be men and women of peace. They are capapble of fostering the culture of encounter ande peace, when other options fail or falter. We must be peacemakers, and our communities must be schools of respect and dialogue with other ethnic or religious groups’.