Hiroshima, 21-25 August 2006
«Dear young men and women, participants in the Youth Assembly of Religions for Peace,
I have been informed that you have come together in Hiroshima from the various continents of the world to demonstrate and work on behalf of peace. To each and all my warmest greeting, and best wishes that this assembly be rich in proposals and concrete fruits.
There is no need to pause on the importance of what you are doing in these days. The tragic situation of a world that longs for peace but seems unable to attain it is before the eyes of all. And so every gesture towards this goal is meaningful; every effort, every endeavor is a contribution.
But I would say that you who are religious youth, believers in a faith, have a very special task and role to play in the vast workshop that is planet earth. Yes, because you are convinced – no matter what religion you come from – that your neighbor, every neighbor should be respected and loved. In fact the “Golden Rule”, as this precept is called, is present in the Sacred Books of all the great world religions. In practice it says: Do to others as you would have them do to you; desire for others what you desire for yourself; do not do or desire for others that which would cause suffering to you. Love for neighbor, understood in this way, is the most efficacious contribution that the world awaits in our times; it is the key towards solving every problem, the fundamental medicine for every evil.
We need to spell out, however, that the love which we, who have received the gift of religious faith, are called to bring to the world is a special kind of love, as strong as death. It is not enough to practice tolerance or non-violence, nor does mere friendship or goodwill towards others suffice.
It is a love which extends indistinctly towards all: young and old, rich and poor, fellow-countryman or stranger, friend or foe. It requires that we be merciful and forgiving. We have to be the first to love others, taking the initiative and not waiting for others to love us. We must love not in words alone, but concretely, in deeds. And forgetting ourselves to be at the service of others implies sacrifice and fatigue.
True peace and unity come about when this way of life is practiced not only by individuals but by people together, united in mutual love. You will have a chance to experience how true this is by loving one another in these days. In the Christian liturgy there is a song which says: “Where there is charity and love, there is God”. God among you, present in your mutual love, will enlighten and guide you on the steps to take, giving you strength, ardor, joy. And the presence of God will unite you in an invisible but powerful net, even when you are far from one another.
Love, therefore: love among all of you and love sown into every corner of the world among persons, groups and nations, using every means possible, in order that, thanks also to your contribution, there be an invasion of love in the world.
Courage my dear young people! I urge you to go forward dauntlessly. Youth is generous, youth does not count the cost. If we all live this way, humanity will become more and more one family and a rainbow of peace will shine out in the world!
I am with you».