NAPLES, Italy, OCT. 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- An appeal carried in the hands of children and handed to representatives of the nations of the world said that violence is an illness polluting the planet.
The appeal for peace, made public by the Catholic lay Community of Sant’Egidio, was presented to the leaders at the concluding ceremony of the 21st International Encounter of Peoples and Religions held in Naples from Sunday through Tuesday. The encounter brought together 315 religious leaders of various creeds.
The peace appeal stated: “From Naples we can say, stronger than before, that anyone who uses the name of God to hate the other, to practice violence, or to wage war, is cursing the name of God. As Benedict XVI told us, ‘Never can evil and violence be justified by invoking the name of God.’
“We need the strength that comes from the spirit of love, which helps rebuild and mend the unity of humankind.”
The appeal urged a spirit of dialogue among all peoples and religions: “In the depths of our religious traditions, we have discovered that a world without dialogue is a world without hope, where people are fated to fear each other. Dialogue does not cancel differences. Dialogue enriches life and dispels pessimism that makes one see the other as a threat. Dialogue is not the illusion of the weak, it is the wisdom of the strong.
“We commit ourselves to learn the art of living together and to offer it to our fellow believers. There is no alternative to the unity of the human family. We need brave builders, in all cultures, and in all religious traditions. We need the globalization of the spirit, which reveals to us what we no longer see: the beauty of life and of the other, in all circumstances, even the hardest.”
Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Sant’Egidio Community, which co-sponsored the event together with the Archdiocese of Naples, announced that the next encounter will be in Cyprus. “This island represents a frontier that can become a bridge of dialogue and peace,” he said.
Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II of New Justiniana and All Cyprus said that in his community, “we have friendly relations with our neighbors, both Muslims and Jews.” He said he hoped the spirit of Assisi, where the first international encounter was convoked by Pope John Paul II in 1986, will be reinforced by a “spirit of Cyprus.”
It is necessary in this century, Chrysostomos II said, “that we are seen as united, despite differences.”