The wars which for too many years have been devastating continents that are only sea distance away from Europe have come into our home, and now terrorism has become the last frontier. And it is in France, one year after the terrible massacre at the Bataclan that the challenge of peace is being relaunched.
On 17 December 1996, in Paris, Chiara Lubich received the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education in recognition for a life spent in the dissemination of a culture of unity and peace and the formation of thousands and thousands of people of every race and latitude.
The Focolare Movement has been present at UNESCO through its New Humanity NGO. The General Management of UNESCO and the Holy See’s Permanent Observer wished to reaffirm and testify to their commitment to unity and peace by proposing a day of reflection and testimony in five areas: Education, the Common Good, Justice, Ecology and Art.
Theme of the event
Last April, at the United Nations in New York, Maria Voce proposed focusing on radical dialogue in the search for peace. She was speaking at a debate on the promotion of tolerance and reconciliation: “[Dialogue] is risky, demanding, challenging, aimed at severing the roots of misunderstanding, fear and resentment.” The challenge of dialogue is timelier than ever. It is the starting point for creating the mosaic of peace, one day at a time, one tile at a time. It is the way to build a planet where there is a mutual recognition of identity and diversity, the mending of the social fabric, new attention to the needy, to justice, to human dignity and to sharing the world’s goods.
The very word peace draws its deepest meaning from its Sanskrit root pak, which means join, unite. Committing oneself to reinventing peace means creating connections that will require the involvement of human, intellectual and institutional resources. It means calling upon the world economy, international law and peace education at all levels. It means valuing cultural diversity, that is, the invaluable identity of every people. It means equipping the new generations for a culture of dialogue and encounter. It means facing up to the refugee crisis concretely. It means protecting the environment, opposing corruption and promoting the rule of law at every level. It means halting the increase in military spending and the arms trade. It means coming up with a new security plan, stability and cooperation for the Middle East.
Program and speakers
The event will be attended by members of the diplomatic world, experts on international relations and the peace process and representatives from New Humanity and the Focolare Movement.
The first session, titled Chiara Lubich, Peace Education, will be introduced by representatives from UNESCO and by Msgr Francesco Follo, Permanent Observer of the Holy See. This will be followed by presentations from Maria Voce and Jesús Morán, president and co-president of the Focolare Movement. The second session – Five paths for peace education on five continents – will carry on with examples of best practices from around the world. In the afternoon there will be an open session titled Dialogue, the remedy for the world’s problems, which will be opened by former Italian Prime Minister, Enrico Letta, and current president of the Jacques Delors Institute. Then there will be two moments of discussion on religions, economy and politics.
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