By Francesca Merlo
“It is a source of joy to see that this pilgrimage of peace … has never been interrupted and continues to grow” said Pope Francis. His words came in a message addressed to Cardinal Carlos Osoro Sierra, Archbishop of Madrid, and to the participants of the Prayer for Peace Meeting.
Organised by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the prayer for Peace Meeting was founded 33 years ago and this year takes place in Madrid, from 15 - 17 September, reflecting on the theme "Peace with no borders".
Peace without borders
Pope Francis began his message recalling the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago, when, he said, the “lacerating division of the European continent that had caused so much suffering ended”.
The contribution of a prayer for peace
That day brought “new peace and hope” throughout the world, said the Pope. We are convinced, he continued, that the “prayers for peace, of so many of God’s sons and daughters contributed to that fall”.
The Pontiff went on to refer to the biblical story of Jericho, which reminds us that “walls fall when they are "besieged" with prayer and not with weapons, with longings for peace and not conquest, when one dreams of a good future for all”.
For this reason, continued the Pope, “it is always necessary to pray and dialogue in the perspective of peace” as “the Lord listens to the prayer of his faithful people”.
Wasting God’s gift
In the first two decades of this century we have seen “God’s gift that is peace” being wasted, with wars and “with the construction of new walls and barriers”, said the Pope.
“It is foolish”, he continued, “to close spaces, to separate peoples”. It is foolish both for the good of the people, and for the good of the world he said. Our world, our common home, “demands love, care, respect… just as humanity demands peace and brotherhood”, said the Pope.
No walls, rather doors
Rather than “walls that separate”, continued Pope Francis, the common home “needs open doors that help to communicate, to meet, to cooperate in order to live together in peace, respecting diversity and tightening bonds of responsibility”.
Pope Francis went on to express his closeness to all those participating in the meeting, from different Christian Churches and different worldwide religions. This prayer, he said “unites us all, in a common feeling, without any confusion”, because, he explained, peace is a common desire in a variety of different religions and traditions.
Document of human fraternity
Pope Francis recalled signing the “Document on Human Fraternity, for World Peace and Living Together” in Abu Dhabi in February. Along with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, he said, “we affirmed that ‘religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood’”.
One voice from one heart
Finally, Pope Francis urged all participants to unite shout, “with one heart and one voice”, that “peace has no borders”. With one heart and from the heart, concluded Pope Francis, as “it is in hearts that the feelings of peace and brotherhood must be sown.”