Pope Francis and the President of Hungary Pope Francis and the President of Hungary  (Vatican Media) Editorial

‘Where are creative efforts for peace?‘

Vatican News’ editorial director reflects on Pope Francis’ first official discourse to authorities upon his arrival in Hungary, where he is undertaking his 41st apostolic journey abroad.

By Andrea Tornielli

Pope Francis‘ dramatic question is uttered from the heart of Europe, from Hungary, whose borders touch Ukraine, the victim of Russia's war of aggression. It is a question that first and foremost challenges the leaders of the nations that are involved as well as the heads of European governments and those of the entire world. It is also a question directed to the conscience of each of us.

Quoting from the 1950 Declaration by Robert Schuman, one of Europe's founding fathers, the Pope said: “The contribution that a structured and vital Europe can make to civilization is indispensable for the preservation of peaceful relations” because “world peace cannot be ensured except by creative efforts, proportionate to the dangers threatening it”. Defining them as “memorable” words, the Pope went on to ask: “At the present time, those dangers are many indeed; but I ask myself, thinking not least of war-torn Ukraine, where are creative efforts for peace?”

It is significant to note that the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, a year ago, speaking at the Council of Europe, had already quoted this phrase from Schuman. Yes, where are these creative efforts? Where is diplomacy with its ability to take new and courageous paths for a negotiation to end the conflict? Where are the “patterns of peace” to be brought into play in order to overcome the looming “patterns of war”?

Pope Francis' question is both dramatic and realistic. It is dramatic because it confronts us with the lack of initiative on the part of a Europe that seems to be surrendering to the logic of rearmament and war while appearing rather apathetic about peace. It is realistic because it warns us against becoming accustomed to “adolescent” belligerence, to a tragic conflict that can degenerate at any moment with catastrophic outcomes for all humanity.

Yet the Pontiff's words, his reference to European unity, the “great hope” together with the United Nations to prevent further wars after the devastating one that ended in 1945, already contain an answer. It lies in the invitation to rediscover “the soul of Europe”, the enthusiasm and the dream of the founding fathers, statesmen who knew how to look beyond their borders, who did not succumb to the sirens of nationalism and were capable of mending instead of tearing. Millions of people, who today see the great hopes raised by the end of the Cold War dashed, and the nightmares of the atomic threat return, are waiting for an answer: where are creative peace efforts?

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28 April 2023, 13:29