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Andrea Riccardi: A global friendship to live together in peace

July 19 2018 - ROME, ITALY

Andrea Riccardi

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I see you’re so many, but not just this: you are also beautiful! I am very happy to attend your meeting for the first time. Eliane mentioned Assisi, then Paris and the legendary Barcelona. Now, at last, in Rome.
The reason we are here is Global Friendship. We are here to say NO to harsh words between Europeans. Between young people. Harsh words towards those coming from the South of the world. We believe there is no future for European countries opposing each other. For hostility between European nations. There is no future. The only future is together. Friendship among Europeans. We aren’t even satisfied with friendship among Europeans. We want a global friendship. What is beautiful here is that more than a thousand European young men and women are sharing words of friendship and solidarity. They say they don’t like words that cause division, words like weapons against each other, we don’t like them.

You are here for the 50th anniversary of Sant’Egidio and I thank you for this, for coming to Rome. I cannot tell you the whole history of Sant’Egidio. I will talk about one year: 1968 When a movement started of young people who wanted to change the world. 1968 proved the audacity of young people, an astonishing audacity. It was an audacious uprising. Where was that youthful audaciousness going? What I felt in ’68 was a beautiful momentum, lively and audacious but it was not leading anywhere. I understood that you cannot change the world if you don’t change the heart first.

To be real, revolutions must change the hearts of people but how do you change a heart?That was the question. And it still is today If we want to change world. We still face the same question: how do you change the heart? Here, dear friends, came the discovery of the Gospel. The Gospel, the Word of Jesus, words with no deception a word that changes your heart. A word that compels you to go outwards: out of school, out of a narrow world to meet with the poor. To meet the poor is to start and touch the wounds of injustice in this world. It means to feel and see the injustice of the world.

The encounter with the poor is the meeting your life is waiting for. It is the true school of human existence. With the poor and with the Gospel, peace begins peace in your life but also peace in that neighborhood, in that care home for the elderly.
Do you know what extreme poverty means for an elderly person, not to be called by name by anyone? The experience with the poor, the experience of friends reading the Gospel together. This made me understand something vital: happiness is a bread you eat together. You can see this in your families: real happiness happens when it is shared, because happiness needs to be shared and when it is shared, it grows. This was the beginning of the Community. This is always the beginning of the Community, every day, today.

Be free, be really free. Don’t waste your freedom chasing things with no value, chasing your own shadow. Don’t be paralyzed by fear, by calculation. Release your freedom, by living generous lives! The world of tomorrow is not the one that someone else will leave you. Where all you can do is look for a little place where you can sleep, work and survive. The world of tomorrow is the one you create. Your strength is greater than you imagine. It is within you, in your hands, in your dreams, in your hopes. There is a strength greater that you imagine, but you need to be audacious. And finally be free. Be free to build a world of peace and don’t wait to live today what people say you can live tomorrow. This is the moment, this day cannot be wasted. Being young doesn’t mean to sit at the station for years, waiting for your train to come. The train has come and what I would like to do, then, is what people do at a railway station: give the announcement.
“On platform one, on the platform of Rome a train has come”. It’s name is Global Friendship. Please, don’t wait for another one. Let’s all get on board because this train is going in the right direction.
Thank you