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Letter from Goma, Congo: We are the spokesperson of poor and neglected elderly of the outskirts

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September 9 2014 19:00 | Grote Markt

Contribution


Andrea Riccardi


Historian, Founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio

Dear friends, 

many fires of war rage on the horizon. This is why we wanted a meeting, here in Antwerp, with women and men of different religions, with  humanists, a meeting on a vital question: will peace be our future? 

It is the question of those peoples who live in anguish, overwhelmed or  menaced  by war:  Will peace be our future? 

Some say that it cannot be the future! Be realistic, they say! It is impossible to avoid conflicts. Peace is not the future!  At least for some peoples it is not ...

Theirs is a resigned “no”, a “no” that is basically brutal and indifferent.  This "no" comes at a price! The  suffering for hundreds of thousands of people. Women who are wounded and raped, children who have been stolen their childhood, men who are forced to flee. They are people without a future. We do not want to add our “no” to that of many. 

Influential religious leaders questioned themselves on these days: can we accept this "no"?  is it possible to bless war,  the mother of so much pain and poverty?

We heard the voice of the religious traditions:  war cannot be holy! Only peace is holy, because it is the name of God, because it is the life for women and men. 

Meeting one another and listening to the painful situations of our world, religious leaders have mutually reminded one another  a primary aspect of their mission. 

Peace is rooted deep within every religious tradition

May the message of peace resound powerfully ! May this message conquer the hearts! May it discourage those who are tempted by violence.

It is the message millions of people trapped in conflicts are waiting for. 

It takes audacity and courage on the part of believers. On the part of religious leaders. 

Meeting, discussing, listening on these days, has given back hope.

I thank the city of Antwerp for the warm welcome. I want to express lots of gratitude to Bishop Johan Bonny and to the Church of Antwerp for their hospitality and the harmony with which we have worked. I thank everyone who contributed experience and wisdom. I thank the many who have attended our meetings and who are here today. I thanks you all who worked to realize this event.

 We have built an event of peace, in a world and in a culture that are  resigned to war, intimidated by violence.

One hundred years after the First World War, we have forgotten that horrible war. 

War leaves the world worse than before. 

But the hope for peace  flourishes once again. Not just for us. But for everyone! 

Our world has lost ideals. It gave up a visions of the future. Often we just try to find a little peace, just  for me and  for my little world.

Today, from Antwerp, a hundred years after the First World War, an ideal is proposed . Then there was a  World War. Why can’t there be a World Peace today? 

Do not put limits to peace! 

Is it a  dream? Is it an Utopia?

But it's so realistic, it is so human:  peace is indeed the future for all!

I think this is the ideal to be realized, and an ideal to live for!

 

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