Men and women of different religions, we convened in the ancient city of Cracow, seventy years after the outbreak of World War II, to pray, to dialogue with each other, to foster a spiritual humanism of peace.
We pay tribute to the memory of John Paul II, a son of this land. He was a master of dialogue and a tenacious witness of the holiness of peace, capable of providing the world with a vision even in difficult times: it is the spirit of Assisi.
That very spirit has blown through a number of peaceful changes that took place in the world. It blew in 1989, twenty years ago, when Poland and other Eastern European countries were restored to freedom. In September 1989 men and women of different religions, gathered in Warsaw by the Community of Sant’Egidio, firmly stated their love for peace: “War never again!”. We have remained faithful to this spirit even when many people, in recent years, maintained that violence and war can solve problems and conflicts in our world.
The bitter lesson of World War II has often been forgotten, though it was a tremendous tragedy in human history. We went as pilgrims to Auschwitz, aware of the abyss into which humankind had fallen. We needed to come back here, into the abyss of evil, to better understand the heart of history! Such immense pain cannot be forgotten!
We need to look at the pains and sorrows of our world: people at war, poverty, the horror of terrorism, the many victims of hatred. Here, we heeded the plea of many people who suffer. Entire peoples are hostage to war and poverty, and many are forced to leave their homes. Many have just vanished, were kidnapped or lack a secure life.
Our world is disoriented by the crisis of a market that believed it was almighty, and by an often faceless and soulless globalization. Globalization is a unique opportunity, yet the world has often preferred to live it as a clash of civilisations and religions. There can be no peace when dialogue between peoples is extinguished. No human being, no people, is ever an island!
Regardless of their differences, our religious traditions strongly testify that a world with no spirit will never be human. They show us the path to return to God, the source of peace.
Spirit and dialogue will give courage to our globalized world! A world without dialogue will be enslaved by hatred and fear for the other. Religions do not want war and do not want to be used for war. To speak of war in the name of God is blasphemous. No war is ever holy. Humanity is always defeated by violence and terror.
Spirit and dialogue show the way to live together in peace. We have discovered, even more clearly, that dialogue delivers from fear and distrust. It is an alternative to war. It does not weaken anyone’s identity but enables us to rediscover the best of ourselves and of the others. Nothing is lost with dialogue! Dialogue writes a better history, while conflict opens up abysses. Dialogue is the art of living together. Dialogue is the gift we want to make to this 21st century.
Let us start afresh from the memory of World War II, from the prophecy of John Paul II, and be pilgrims of peace. With patience and courage, let us give shape to a new era of dialogue, uniting together in peace those who hate and ignore each other, all peoples, and all humankind. May God grant the entire world, every man and every woman, the wonderful gift of peace!
Cracow, 8th September 2009