Voices Joining For Peace

Twenty years after the conferment of the UNESCO Peace Education Prize on Chiara Lubich and on the 8th anniversary of her death (March 14, 2008), an event at Castel Gandolfo, Italy, proposes the culture of dialogue as a means of peace.

20160313-02The spirituality of unity born of Chiara Lubich holds a strong relevance for peace. This was the main message of an event at Castel Gandolfo, Italy, on March 12, 2016 at which people came together to reconsider the heredity of Chiara Lubich in the field of peace building. In attendance were ambassadors and representatives of the diplomatic corps to the Holy See and to the Italian State from 20 countries: Morocco, Libya, Benin, Gabon Turkey, Taiwan, Argentina, Venezuela, Cuba, Uruguay, Paraguay, USA, Guatemala, and several European nations like Ukraine, Lithuania, Albania, Slovenia, Portugal and Malta.

MariaVoce_12.3.206Yet, the current picture which imposes itself on our gaze offers images of a “a peace that is violated and often derided” leading us to believe that “the generations of the Third Millennium will never have an experience of life together in peace.” These were the words of Focolare president, Maria Voce in her welcoming remarks. How can we retie the broken thread of human relationships among peoples and States? “At the UNESCO headquarters, Chiara Lubich had presented a method of Peace Education,” Maria Voce recalled. It was the spirituality of unity, which lays the foundations for a culture of dialogue. This was demonstrated by 4 experiences: the simplicity of the Cube of Peace which became the basis for the development of Living Peace, a project in Cairo schools that has reached 300 schools in 110 countries involving an additional 1000 children and teenagers; dialogue between Christians and Muslims in Italy against the backdrop of tension that spreads across the continent; the “miraculous” story of Fontem, Cameroon, in which Chiara Lubich foresaw the future unity amongst the peoples foreshadowed in a pact that was sealed between the chiefs of the two tribes; and then her grand dream of influencing society through culture and thought, which has led to the founding of the Sophia University Institute, Loppiano, Italy.

GenVerde_12.3.2016Gen Verde also spoke from the stage of the Mariapolis Centre in Castel Gandolfo. Their songs from the new On the Other Side Show sing the same stories: the sacrifice of the monks in Tibhirine, Algeria, the lullaby for the nameless child who drowned during one of many voyages of hope, Salvadoran bishop Oscar Romero’s voice for truth, now Blessed, murdered at the hand of a criminal, the cry of the Amazon forest that impoverishes us all. Gen Verde works to build peace in its many workshops for thousands of young people. Those young people choose to be the first sprouts of a new people wherever they find themselves, the sprouts of a more supportive world for the smallest and poorest. This is what Chiara had said at UNESCO when she spoke of a “united world” and she also told how to do it: having courage to suffer, accepting the suffering and fatigue that it requires. “If more people accepted suffering out of love, the suffering demanded by love,” Chiara said, “that would be the most powerful arm for giving back humanity its true dignity: not that of a collection of peoples, one next to the other, often at war – but one people.”