“A cold and windy day, but filled with light.” So Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, commemorates the historic Day of Prayer for Peace convened by Pope John Paul II in Assisi thirty years ago. For Riccardi, the “simple and profound intuition” of John Paul II indicated a big news: the religious leaders could be “next to each other, for peace” and “showing together testified to their faithfuls that living together was possible”.
That event, which some would have preferred to stay “unique, with no follow-up”, was re-emerging something “intrinsic” to all religious traditions and would have shown capable of giving fruits of peace “in many places in the world”, such as in Mozambique (1992), as well as to “counter the enslavement of any faith to war and terrorism.” In Assisi it was discovered that there was need of praying for peace, and “the prayer of all, each according to their own identity, and in the search for truth”.
For this, Riccardi observed, “Sant’Egidio has chosen to carry on that spirit”, to continue to meet, because “in the encounter there is a liberation” from many small individual worlds. Today the spirit of Assisi blows over a time which is “complex and fragmented, with its challenges, the rapprochement of peoples, but also new fears”.
Riccardi has emphasized the importance of the art of dialogue, “fundamental for joining, for highlighting what is common and take advantage of what is different”. Quoting Bauman, for whom the art of dialogue “is something which humanity must face, the alternative being too horrible even at the thought”, the founder of Sant’Egidio concluded: “Dialogue is the cleverness of living together: either we will live together or we will die together “.