“This is the plea of the entire of the Middle East: ‘Stop the conflicts!’,” states Arlette Samman, a Lebanese, in the face of the unprecedented exodus of entire populations from Syria, Iraq and other countries: “For those who leave, it is an immense suffering, since they are going towards the unknown and feel that death is near. They find themselves without resources and security for the future of their families… otherwise none of them would have wanted to leave their own country.”
“It is comforting to see the humanitarian response by many European countries,” continues Philippe who has lived in Egypt over the past 14 years. “But we also wish to give a voice to the Middle East as it anxiously awaits peace and the right “to live and not to die”.
Both underline the importance of finding ever new solutions for brotherhood and above all, intensifying public opinion. This is the same perspective targeted by the peace mobilization that the Focolare Movement has currently relaunched together with all those working for the same aim.
In Europe, solicited by the words of Pope Francis, and also by the new awareness on the part of the political authorities – as recently expressed by the EU Commission’s President, Jean-Claude Juncker – initiatives have doubled to welcome the refugees with private homes opening their doors, coordination of material aids and fund collections.
Practically the entire world will be present in Rome over the next days, with the 80 delegates from 36 countries, representatives of the respective geographical macro-areas: “Coming here is an occasion to meet our brothers and sisters operating for peace, and who continue to support us in difficult times.” This is the general state of mind of those coming from distressed areas. From Latin America, Maria Augusta De La Torre, gave us a view of other situations: “In Cuba people are full of great expectations and hope. On one hand is the ‘new friendship’ between Cuba and the USA, and on the other, the Catholic Church which in Cuba is more dynamic than ever. The Pope’s mediation and his next visit to the Island is boosting this revival.”
As to the frontier conflict between Colombia and Venezuela she said: «It is a very painful situation. We went to the border and saw the suffering of the people who had to leave their homes and there is great uncertainty with regard to the future, suffering and rebellion in face of the what has happened. Smuggling has always existed, but now nobody knows what lies behind these forceful decisions. In Venezuela the people feel depressed and without hope. The members of the Movement find the strength that comes from living the Gospel and want to continue to bear witness to fraternity between these two peoples. »
From Nigeria, Ruth Wambui Mburu, a Kenyan citizen, confided that the stronger commitment they have to face as a Focolare is the radical enforcement of separation between north and south, between Muslims and Christians, and ethnic groups. Their efforts and commitments consist in being testimonials of fraternity lived among these different groups. Georges Sserunkma, also from Nigeria, upon arriving in Rome precisely in this historic moment, said “I feel that this is really the unique home we all live in – seeing how the Church and the Movement take all these situations to heart, makes me breath a wider dimension and fills my heart with hope.”
“Each of us has come with a heavy load on our shoulders,” affirms Marcella Sartarelli from Vietnam, “but also with hope in believing that “the world is reaching out to unity.” One of these signs for her is also “the openness we saw in Vietnam, for example in our contacts with the Church. There is a new awakening, which is giving more hope. All we know about Vietnam is the war of 30 years ago, but less about what Vietnam is today – a country undergoing rapid development. Some passages of the encyclical Laudato Si’ seem to trace a precise profile of this country: a fast advancing economy, with ultra-modern cities and at the same time, the countryside abandoned to pollution. With a group of young people in a village near Hanoi, where the situation is critical, we are documenting this hidden problem, but at the same time, rolling up our sleeves to clean up.”
Also in Oceania, environmental problems are strongly felt: “In New Zealand, the young people promoted the action Give one hour of your power, inviting everyone, on the day dedicated to the care of the planet, to switch off the electricity for an hour,” Augustine Doronila recounts, “while for years now there has been an ongoing action to help the population of Kiribati, an archipelago at risk of extinction due to the rising sea levels.”
Reflections and sharing of experiences will mark the two weeks meeting, from 14 to 27 September 2015, dedicated to the word “unity”: not only a point of the focolarino spirituality, but a key to the spiritual and social action of the Movement, the word that synthesizes its message.