Special Report : Vatican’s World Interfaith Harmony Week : Pope gives a Hope for a Better World
Vatican’s World Interfaith Harmony Week : Pope gives a Hope for a Better World
By – Claudia Giampietro, J.C.L.
Today is the last day of the World Interfaith Harmony Week and there is no better image to symbolize it than what is depicted in the bronze medallion which Pope Francis gave as a gift to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his visit to the Vatican on Monday: the angel of peace strangles the demon of war, as the emblem of a world based on peace and justice.
What does it mean to build peace and justice in a world which is overwhelmed by violence, anger and the will for revenge? Here in Italy we are learning on a daily basis how essential it is to properly deal with what we could define our darkest hour.
The picture of an Italian man who opened fire on a group of African migrants a few days ago in the city of Macerata was all over the papers; shooting from his car, covered in the Italian flag, he looked like a vengeful ghost. He had learned from the radio that a Nigerian guy was deemed guilty of having murdered an 18 years old Italian teen, who was listed as missing, and then found cut in pieces in two suitcases. He thought it was his mission to settle the score. Thanks God, none of the victims of this crazy executioner died.
But what can we say of our values, how can we re-establish peace and justice, when we are so lost that even our politicians incite to violence in their public speeches? As Paolo Gentiloni, Prime Minister of Italy, recently said: “Our Country needs to understand that we are all members of a community, that we are bonded together by a shared fate, in which we live together, without suspicion.”
We can understand from this perspective the importance of the mission of religious leaders, as underlined by Pope Francis in his address to the participants in the Conference ‘Tackling violence committed in the name of religion’: “We need to show, with unremitting effort, that every human life is sacred, that it deserves respect, esteem, compassion and solidarity, without regard for ethnicity, religion, culture, or ideological and political convictions.”
This is exactly the contrary of what advocated by some extremist elements, such as people who comment events concerning the life of the Catholic Church with an unbelievable cruelty, which not even ignorance may justify. This morning I came across some of the comments to an article on the website of Church Militant, concerning the issue that a conference celebrating International Women’s Day will be held outside the Vatican.
The style of the article itself and the remarks were so arrogant that only people who totally agree with the point of view of the author would throw themselves in a mercilessly and blind accusation of women, showing an unparalleled misogyny. Now I wonder if this is a misunderstood form of parrhesia. The sad reality is that we are perpetrators of violence first of all with our words, incapable of having a simple dialogue even among the same group of believers. No wonder that when the context widens, well… may God have mercy on us, still dressed as Crusaders in the wrong time and place!
Therefore, when I think of the World Interfaith Harmony Week and of all the events which marked this week, my mind and my heart stop way before reaching global contexts and picturesque scenarios which are actually very far from our sight. I read again Pope Francis’ statement and I weigh every single word, praying for its realization, patiently waiting that the angel of peace shows up and restores the longed-for harmony we all are dreaming of.
Report from Vatican….