LOPPIANO, Italy, MAY 3, 2002 (Zenit.org).- More than 6,000 young people from 72 countries arrived in Loppiano, headquarters of the Focolare Movement, to commit themselves personally to the construction of world peace.
On Wednesday they heard numerous peace testimonials from youths around the world. They also observed a minute of silence and prayer at midday during a telephone connection with a group of Holy Land “Youths for a United World,” which included Jews, Christian Arabs, and Muslim Arabs.
“We ask for peace for those 20 points of the earth where it is still threatened, especially for your land, for all men and all peoples of the land,” the youths in Italy said in a statement. “We ask for forgiveness for all the wars that devastate our planet and we commit ourselves to speed up the construction of a world that at last is united.”
Youths of the Holy Land will carry the text of an interreligious prayer for peace to the Wailing Wall, the Holy Sepulcher and the Golden Mosque in Jerusalem, places that symbolize the three great religions.
In a message sent to the young people gathered in this town near Florence, Focolare foundress Chiara Lubich said: “May today´s event be a stage in the fabulous program to one day see that universal fraternity that is the solution to all the grave problems of our planet, especially after Sept. 11. Take love again to the world which can change the world.”
Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission, was connected in a videoconference with the young people to express his approval of the petition they made on the eve of the meeting, for greater European commitment to the solution of the Middle East crisis.
“Your appeal is a help to me, because in your message you speak of uniting prophecy and realism,” Prodi said.
Signatures were collected in the afternoon to support the call for peace sent to Prodi, European Union President José María Aznar; Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique; and Javier Solana, the European Union´s diplomat responsible for Foreign Affairs.
Twenty thousand signatures have been collected in recent days. Signers include European parliamentarians, mayors and councilmen. Hundreds of youths expressed their support for the initiative through Internet.
Founded in 1943, the Focolare Movement has 2 million followers or sympathizers in 182 countries.