Cardinal, Archbishop of Cracow, Poland
1. The International Meeting for Peace “People and Religions” is drawing to an end. On behalf of the Church of Cracow, and also – I dare say – on behalf of the people of Cracow, I would like to thank all those who took part in any way in the Meeting. I want to thank everybody for being here, for your reflection, your prayer, your friendship. I thank you for these three days’ work in this workshop where we have forged peace.
2. Peace is a gift of God. Peace is born in the hearts of men and women when they consider the others as brothers and sisters. Peace is the work of communities and peoples who, while preserving their identity, gather together in the one family of peoples and take part in an incredible symphony of languages, cultures and traditions.
Peace is a fragile gift. It is threatened by the individual selfishness of man, and the collective selfishness of societies. It is threatened by lack of respect for diversity. It is threatened by acting upon the laws of violence and force, surrendering to the temptation of terrorism. It is threatened by lack of solidarity, particularly towards the poor and the victims of injustice.
3. The “People and Religions” Peace Meeting wished to firmly reassert that no religion and no faith can act as the spark for conflicts, violence, and wars. The name of every religion is peace, because peace is the name of God. The participants to the Congress did not meet to compete and fight. They met to build together mutual bonds of fraternity and reconciliation, which the work of peace stands upon.
4. We are grateful that the call for peace has risen to heaven from Cracow, city of peace. It is the hometown of the pilgrim of peace, John Paul II, who left this city to serve humankind and proclaim peace to a troubled world.
Our invocation for peace has spread all over the world in these days, as we remember the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II. Today we went as pilgrims to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, the Calvary of the 20th century. We saw the monstrous form evil can assume. We have entrusted to God Almighty the innocent victims of hatred, including the daughters and sons of the Jewish people, of the gipsies, of the Russians, of the Poles, and of the other European peoples. We have prayed for this tragedy never to happen again.
Our invocation for peace rises on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the totalitarian regimes in Central and Eastern Europe. We wish with all our heart that all the peoples on earth may live free, free from dictatorships and insane ideologies.
5. I express my thanks to all those who contributed to organize and carry out our International Meeting for Peace. May all the institutions and people feel acknowledged in these thanks. My special thanks go to the Community of Sant’Egidio, which prepared this meeting together with the Archdiocese of Cracow. I thank the Community for its faithfulness to the legacy of John Paul II, for having kept alive the memory of this reality that is called Assisi.
Thank you for the Spirit of Assisi in Cracow!