Faith is the response to fear, not courage. Interview with Professor Andrea Riccardi

Professor Riccardi, 50 years ago you founded the Community of Sant’Egidio, together with some high school student. What changed in the society you are facing today, compared to the one of 50 years ago?

At that time, we were living in the society of the uprising and of the ’68: youngsters wanted to change the world. Nowadays, society is full of concern for the future. Youth use to have a sense of greatness, today youngsters are somehow feeling crushed by society. Sant’Egidio started has a reality of youngsters wanting to live the Gospel and being next to the poor: that is the red thread of our history.

Professor, how would it be possible for the Church to be a sign for our society so much marked by fear for the different one and for globalization?

We live in the age of fear and rage. Rage comes from fear. Nevertheless, courage is not an answer to fear, rather faith is. Faith gives hope for the future. Indeed, it is possible for the Church  give hope. According to me this is crucial: it is the remarkable challenge Pope Francis is embodying and accepting.

In your book you talk about the Theology of the Sign of Times, so dear to the 2nd Vatican Council. How do you see the latest signs of our time, such as the outcome of the recent political election in Italy?

It seems to me that Italians are afraid of the future and are looking for ways to defend themselves and build walls, but that is not true and surely not easy. I trust we live in a safe society in need of hope for the future. We are called to offer icons of the future, images of hope.