From 29 September to 13 October, many inter-religious meetings in the Spirit of Assisi took place in the cities of Bukavu, Goma and Uvira. Taking up the theme of the gathering in Madrid "Peace without Borders", these meetings brought together the representatives of the various Christian denominations and Islam present in the region.
The provinces of North and South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), are on the border with Burundi and Rwanda, and for decades the populations have been living in a situation of instability caused by ethnic and border conflicts.
Particularly important was the presence of several local leaders representing tribes and civil society groups who wanted to reaffirm their commitment to a peaceful future by signing the appeal of peace from Madrid. The testimonies of children and the elderly gave voice to the weakest: the first victims of any war.
In his message, the bishop of Uvira wrote, thanking the Community of sant’Egidio: «Nothing can be done without peace. Throughout this region we know it well because we have experienced continuous wars. There is an old pagan adage that says, "whoever wants peace prepares war". We instead say: "Those who want peace prepare their hearts!" From the heart, says Scripture, the bad feelings of hatred, envy, jealousy arise, and from the heart feelings and desires for peace can also be born. Those who want peace prepare their hearts - and we must all do it - starting with the children in our schools and churches. It was often from there that many "warlords" of today also came. What did we pass on to them? We must all go back to the School of Peace. "