“Let us not be afraid to become beggars for peace,” the Pope wrote in his message to the participants of the International Meeting for Peace organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio. This year’s meeting was held in Berlin, Germany, from September 10 to 12, 2023, and was centered on the theme “the audacity of peace.”
In his message, Pope Francis began by underlining the strong symbolic significance of the location of the meeting, as it was being held near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, where the wall dividing East and West Germany stood until 1989. “That wall also divided two worlds, Western and Eastern Europe,” the Pope highlighted. When it fell it “opened up new horizons: freedom for peoples and the reunification of families, but also the hope of a new world peace following the Cold War.”
“Unfortunately over the years, the promise of such a future was not built on this common hope, but on special interests and mutual mistrust,” the Pope assessed. He pointed out that more walls have been erected since then and “sadly, it is often a short step from wall to trench.” He emphasized how several areas of Africa, the Middle East and Ukraine, are all affected by “a terrible conflict with no end in sight, and which has caused death, injury, pain, exile, and destruction.”
Action is needed: the audacity for peace
In the face of these tragedies, “we cannot resign ourselves to this scenario. Something more is needed. We need the ‘audacity of peace,’ which is at the heart of your meeting,” the Pope insisted. “Realism is not enough, political considerations are not enough, the strategic approaches implemented so far are not enough. More is needed, because war continues.”
In a world where everything speeds by, only the end to war seems slow.
“In a world where everything speeds by, only the end to war seems slow. It takes courage to know how to move in another direction, despite obstacles and real difficulties,” the Pope said, highlighting the responsibility of political and government leaders and of the international community. “The audacity of peace is the prophecy required of those who hold the fate of warring countries in their hands, of the international community, of us all.”
Those responsible must “denounce the madness of war” by giving “expression to the cries of mothers and fathers, to the heartbreak of the fallen, and to the futility of destruction.”
The importance of prayer
For believers the audacity of peace means asking for it through prayer, “to invoke from heaven what seems impossible on earth,” the Pope explained. “Let us not be afraid to become beggars for peace, joining our sisters and brothers of other religions and all those who do not resign themselves to the inevitability of conflict,” he said, citing the Gospel of Luke that says “ask and it will be given you.”
“It is indeed necessary to press forward in order to surmount the wall of the impossible, constructed on the apparently irrefutable reasoning arising from the memory of such great sorrow and so many wounds suffered in the past,” the Pope wrote. “It is not impossible for believers, who live the audacity of a hopeful prayer. But it must not be impossible for politicians, leaders or diplomats either.”
“Let us continue to pray for peace without losing heart, to knock with a humble and insistent spirit at the ever-open door of God’s heart and at the doors of humankind. Let us ask that ways to peace be opened, especially for beloved and war-torn Ukraine,” the Pope continued.
“Let us trust that the Lord always hears the anguished cry of his children. Hear us, Lord!”