Maria Voce, you are the President of the Focolare Movement which is organising a meeting at UNESCO on 15th November called “Reinventing peace”. Can you tell us what we should do in the face of the “piecemeal third world war” which Pope Francis so often talks about? Is it a question of reinventing peace piecemeal and fostering practical projects everywhere, like lights shining in the darkness?
The large number of small actions for peace, that those who are part of the Focolare Movement are engaged in, have value in themselves, as do those of many other people. However, they are also part of a holistic outlook and a shared vision: they seek to build universal fraternity and are directed towards “may they all be one”, which is the dream of a God [Cf John 17:221]. This outlook and goal encourage, support and help us to start again always, beyond the difficulties and in the midst of the sufferings that a commitment to peace entails.
20 years ago the founder of Focolare, Chiara Lubich, was awarded the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education. On 15th November, the meeting in Paris will present the many initiatives that your Movement has undertaken to move forward towards genuine peace. What is the Focolare actually doing in the Holy Land for example; especially in Jordan, Palestine and Israel – countries that are fundamental to peace in the world – to respond to the need for peace education and which can be a source of inspiration for people of good will elsewhere?
The encounter between cultures and religions which the Focolare promotes is a daily experience. It is not confined to tolerance or the simple acceptance of diversity; it even goes beyond reconciliation. It creates a new identity, so to speak, one that is broader, held in common and shared. It is a concrete dialogue that brings together people of the most varied beliefs, including non religious beliefs, and which urges them to take on real needs and to respond together to challenges in the social, economic, cultural and political spheres. It occurs in places where there are grave crises, like Syria, Iraq and the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and many other places.
The same applies to the Holy Land. We share the same conviction. If there is an extremism of violence, we need to respond in a structurally different way, with an extremism of dialogue. It is a commitment which requires the greatest personal and collective dedication and it is risky, demanding and challenging. Young people, children and families are involved in this; Christians, Jews and Muslims. They seek first of all to remove the roots of misunderstanding fear and resentment from their own hearts. It is an extremism which is nourished day by day through a particular art, the art of loving.
On the level of dialogue between Islam and Christianity, what do you expect from the meeting at UNESCO on the 15th November? It is only a year since the attacks in Paris that took place on 13th November 2015. What message do you wish to give concerning this?
We hope it will help us all and many others to be newly and more deeply aware that God’s plan for humankind is to form one single human family; a family that is both united and varied, which presupposes diversity, but where the differences are not in opposition to each other. It is a reality to be built up precisely through the path of dialogue. Dialogue between Christians and Muslims is ever more important and necessary, as we well know; but it is not the only one.
Source: Vatican Insider