Castel Gandolfo (Fides Service) – Pope John Paul II sent a message to the ecumenical and interreligious Meeting organised by S. Egidio Community in Aachen Germany. Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, former president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, carried the Message to the participants.
In the message the Holy Father refers to the meeting as another lap on the journey which began with the Day of Prayer for Peace which he himself convoked in 1986. At that time “I invited believers of all world religions to gather to pray for peace. I had before my eyes the great vision of the prophet Isaiah: all the peoples of the world walking from every corner of the earth to gather around God, in one, great, multiform family…In Assisi that dream took on concrete and visible shape sparking in many hearts hope for peace”. The Pope says with regret “unfortunately that longing was not perceived with the necessary openness and concern. In these years too little has been invested to defend peace and support the dream of a world free of war. Men preferred the path of developing certain interests, spending huge resources in other ways, especially military expenses”. “In a few days time – the Pope continued – we will remember the tragic attack on the twin Tower in New York. Sad to say, with the Towers, hopes for peace appear also to have collapsed. Wars and conflicts continue to prosper and poison the life of so many peoples, particularly in the poorest countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. I am thinking of the dozens of wars still being fought and of that widespread “war” represented by terrorism”.
The Pope asks: “When will wars cease? When will people be able at last to see a world at peace? And above all what can believers do?” The international Interreligious Meetings organised by S. Egidio are one answer because “every year people of different religions meet, come to know each other, dissolve tension, learn to live together and share the common responsible for peace”. John Paul II also mentions the Christian roots of Europe, reaffirming that they are not “a memory of religious exclusivism, they are the basis of freedom because they render Europe melting pot of different cultures and experiences”.
The Pope ends his message with a word to the different interlocutors. He calls on Christians to “continue with determination dialogue to eliminate the scandal of division”; he asks the representatives of the great world religions to intensify dialogue for peace; he calls on men and women of secular tradition to stand by their commitment for peace and “proceed with dialogue and with love as the only paths to obtain respect for the rights of each and to face the great challenges of the new millennium”. SL (Fides Service 8/9/2003 EM lines 37 Words: 471)