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The invocation for peace by the Pope in the Vatican gardens that was celebrated in the presence of the Presidents of Israel and Palestine recently has created a big splash in the media.
This noise in the press has been so great that nobody has really taken care to speak about the speech, or even more, to read it through attentively.
Let me be clear about the question, it is in no way my intention to diminish the peaceful intentions of the present Pope, for anybody praying for Peace, whatever his faith, catches my attention and deserves my respect and support. For it happens to me, whether I am in the hall of some natural area of Study and Reflection, or when I meet with friends, or even when I’m on my own and in contact with the cosmos, that I often start praying for peace: which I call uttering a request, but then it’s just another way of saying the same things that we ask for when we pray. It means concentrating my mind with the aim of realizing something that’s really important to me.
Peace has been missing from this planet for quite a time: and in a globalized world it happens that pacifists quarrel like mad about how many wars are even actually being waged at present.
At the same time the very unitarian perception which astronauts have conveyed to us by describing the world as a “round blue hotel shrouded in clouds” should urge us forwards naturally in the direction of peace.
But let’s get back to that invocation.
We have tried so many times and over so many years to resolve our conflicts by our own powers and by the force of our arms. How many moments of hostility and darkness have we experienced; how much blood has been shed; how many lives have been shattered; how many hopes have been buried… But our efforts have been in vain.
Now, Lord, come to our aid! Grant us peace, teach us peace; guide our steps in the way of peace. Open our eyes and our hearts, and give us the courage to say: “Never again war!”; “With war everything is lost”. Instil in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace.
Lord, God of Abraham, God of the Prophets, God of Love, you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters. Give us the strength daily to be instruments of peace; enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister. Make us sensitive to the plea of our citizens who entreat us to turn our weapons of war into implements of peace, our trepidation into confident trust, and our quarrelling into forgiveness.
Keep alive within us the flame of hope, so that with patience and perseverance we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. In this way may peace triumph at last, and may the words “division”, “hatred” and “war” be banished from the heart of every man and woman. Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands. Renew our hearts and minds, so that the word which always brings us together will be “brother”, and our way of life will always be that of: Shalom, Peace, Salaam!
But what does Bergoglio tell us? He tells us that human beings are unable to solve their own conflicts and that we can only hope that God shall do it for us, saying that, he adds that He is the father of us all. And that peace remains one of the main themes of the principal monotheistic religions.
We expected that somewhere he would have reminded us to ask for forgiveness for the many times where the Evil one (yes my friends, he also talks about the Evil one) insinuated themselves in the ranks of his followers, when priests have blessed canons of war and actually continue to do so. When the church has armed the crusades with the aim of killing, even in extremely cruel ways, people who just did not believe in the same religion. When the church remained speechless and silent, when it crowned the heads of bloodthirsty kings.
I dare not consider the fact that he could have thought of denouncing the real culprits of all wars and especially of the one being waged in the Holy Land. The warmongers who are getting rich on the arms business, those who encourage and finance every kind of fanaticism in all parts of the world, the military who exalt the principles of war and the annihilation of others. Of those who believe in war and use it as a solution for international problems.
Peace is a direct consequence of human actions and of the intentions underlying them. And if the Superior Being, which Humans have thought up for themselves, is to be of any use, it can be only be to light up and understand human intentions: intentions which can surface as predatory or full of solidarity, merciful or merciless, violent or nonviolent. We cannot hope to be left in the hands of some God who forgets about Human beings, just as we must not continue to make such errors, one this that has done so much harm to the whole of Humanity.
Dear Francesco, looking for a way towards peace is a good effort for you to make, but in the words of the Master of another religion which you have never even thought of quoting, Thich Nath Hanh “There is no way to Peace, Peace is the Way.” With this in mind, we would appreciate such media parades as that recently made by you when these are accompanied by sincere, daily efforts towards reconciliation, atonement, denouncement and witness.
Translation from Italian by Francesca Piatti