By Antonio Gaspari
ROME, JUNE 23, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, which will be held Aug. 20-27 in Rimini, was presented last week at the Borromeo Palace.
The theme for this year’s event, sponsored by the Catholic Communion and Liberation Movement in Rimini, Italy, is “And Existence Becomes an Immense Certainty.”
Last year’s meeting gathered some 800,000 people of 29 nationalities for 130 talks, eight exhibitions and 35 shows.
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, was among the presenters. Others included Franco Frattini, Italian minister of foreign affairs; Emilia Guarnieri, president of the Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples Foundation, and Giorgio Vittadini, president of the Foundation for Subsidiarity.
They reflected on ideas from the theme.
Cardinal Tauran spoke of trust in God as stemming “from the conviction that the ultimate truth of my life does not come from me, but from Another who illumines my life and gives it meaning.”
“Faith is certainty, but not security,” he proposed, because “it is linked to me and my weakness.”
“The great certainty we have is not a philosophical option or a mystical experience, or the conclusion of a study on man’s religious dimension. No, our certainty is a person who is called Jesus of Nazareth,” the cardinal reflected.
Speaking of the meeting, the cardinal revealed that “for me … it is to be able to touch the fact that we can go to God through earthly realities and the products of human intelligence, culture, technology and science.”
“And what is specific to the laity,” he said, “is to articulate their duties, to give religious meaning to their profane activities … it could be said that the duty of the Christian in face of earthly commitments is to consecrate them.”
Politics and morals
Frattini spoke about international relations, particularly Italy’s role.
“Italy has to develop in the Mediterranean a political role but above all a moral role,” he proposed.
“In the past we thought that in the Middle East our strategic interest was to support the stability of governments in regard to the pillars of our history, that is, democracy, equality and law. However,” he said, “all this failed because the stability of authoritarian regimes was very fragile. Governments that seemed very stable fell in one week. It happened in Tunisia and Egypt and it is happening in Syria. It hasn’t happened yet in Libya because of the bloody nature of the Ghaddafi regime and the enormous amount of money it has.”
The minister said that “we work with these countries in the phase of transition to democracy, but we will be attentive to avoid the positive wind of democracy being absorbed by extremists prepared to impose a new totalitarianism.”
Guarnieri began by saying that “certainty is a paradoxical word in these times of uncertainty; times characterized in all realms — in politics, in the economy, in social life and in men’s condition — by a state of real uncertainty.”
And the greatest of these uncertainties is “the uncertainty that has to do with the perception of oneself, an uncertainty of an anthropological nature,” she said. “And the uncertainty about the possibility that truth exists, end even more tragic, the uncertainty about the fact that man can attain to truth, that is, that a path might exist, a course through which man may reach truth.”
This uncertainty, the foundation president observed, is seen particularly in young people. She pointed to statistics on the millions of youth who “are not studying, not working, and are not looking for a job.”
But, Guarnieri continued, there are also other types of news, such as doctors risking their lives to treat cholera patients in Haiti, or businessmen foregoing profits to defend the jobs of their employees.
In other words, she said, there are people “who have an ideal for which to sacrifice themselves, and they know it is the truth.”
“This,” she said, “is the inevitable certainty from which I believe this year’s meeting hopes to begin.”