Papal Message for International Peace Meeting

«Peace needs to be supported by hearts and minds that seek truth»

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 11, 2012 ( Here is a translation of the message that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope’s secretary of state, sent in the name of the Holy Father to the archbishop of Vrhbosna-Sarajevo, on the occasion of the 26th International Meeting of Prayer for Peace, organized by Sant’Egidio Community.

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Lord Cardinal,

I am particularly happy to express the cordial greeting and appreciation of the Holy Father Benedict XVI to the distinguished representatives of the Christian Churches and Communities, and of the great world religions, as well as to the population of Sarajevo, particularly dear to him, and to all those who are gathered to hold the 26th International Meeting for Peace, organized by Sant’Egidio Community.

It is a motive of joy and comfort to see that this pilgrimage of peace, begun in Assisi in October of 1986 by Blessed John Paul II, continues to bear fruit. The Supreme Pontiff himself wished to stress its significance last year, 25 years later, going as a pilgrim to the city of Saint Francis, together with so many believers and men and women of good will, who are in sincere search of the truth and, because of this, are committed to building peace. On that occasion he observed how the cause of peace is menaced by a twofold risk: on one hand, the instrumentalization of religion as motive of violence, and on the other the “no” to God in the name of an altogether secularized vision of man, which in turn is capable of producing a measureless violence. The effects of the converging of these two negative forces were experienced, among other things, in a dramatic measure also in the city of Sarajevo, in that war that began 20 years ago, bringing death and destruction in the Balkans.

As antidote to this ever recurring threat, Pope Benedict XVI re-launched at Assisi the alliance of religious persons and of persons who do not feel that they are members of a religious tradition, but are in sincere search of the truth, in the conviction that from a profound and sincere dialogue there will be able to spring: for the former the commitment to an ever necessary purification of the religion lived, and for the latter to maintain themselves open to the great questions of humanity and to the Mystery that envelops the life of man.

In this way, the common pilgrimage towards truth can be translated also into the common pilgrimage towards peace. Expressions of this are the International Meetings for Peace organized by Sant’Egidio Community. The meeting at Sarajevo this year takes on a special value. As Blessed John Paul II was able to affirm, who felt himself so profoundly linked to this city, “We cannot forget that Sarajevo became the symbol of the suffering of the whole of Europe in this century. It was so at the beginning of the 20th century, when World War I began here; it was so in a different way the second time, when conflict was totally consummated in this region” (Homily at Sarajevo, April 13, 1997).

Today, from Sarajevo, a message is intended to go out, thanks to the meeting of so many men and women of different religions. Peace needs to be supported by hearts and minds that seek truth, that open to the action of God, that stretch their hands to others. Hence it is important to broaden one’s look to the whole world and to the problematic realities for coexistence, reconciliation and peace, which still characterize it, with hope and commitment: in fact, the threat of terrorism continues, so many wars bloody the earth, violence against brothers seems to have no end. Our world is in real need of peace! More than that, rising from our world always louder is the cry «May peace come!” In these days the thought of the Holy Father goes, particularly, to the Middle East, to the tragic situation in Syria and to the Apostolic Journey that he is about to undertake to Lebanon. The hope is that those lands, and all lands in need of reconciliation and tranquility, will soon find peace in serene coexistence, in stability and in respect of the rights of man.

The long experience of dialogue, lived also in these Meetings, shows how fallacious is the culture of conflict, while it highlights the value of dialogue built on the firm solid platforms of truth, from which peace flows: “to live together is at bottom a simple predisposition, which stems directly from our human condition. Hence it is our task to give it a positive content. Living together can be transformed into living against one another, it can become a hell, if we do not learn to accept one another, if each one does not wish to be other than himself. However, to open to others, to offer oneself to others, can also be a gift” (BENEDICT XVI, Message to the International Meeting for Peace of Monaco, September 1, 2011). It is an awareness that must be widened in the consciences of men and peoples. “The future is to live together!” For us Christians, this vision is rooted in faith: “the God in whom we believe is the Creator and Father of all men, from which derives that all persons are brothers and sisters among themselves and constitute only one family. The Cross of Christ is for us the sign of God, which in place of violence puts suffering with the other and loving with the other” (BENEDICT XVI, Address at Assisi, October 27, 2011).

Meanwhile, the Holy Father wishes you a fruitful meeting, he joins all those present spiritually, in the certainty that the Lord, Father of all men, will continue to guide us on the path of peace and of the peaceful meeting between peoples, blessing our every effort.

I also associate myself to the Supreme Pontiff’s wish and take advantage of the occasion to manifest to you, Lord Cardinal, the sentiments of my consideration and my esteem in Christ.

Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone

Secretary of State

[Translation by ZENIT]
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