Pope to Join ‘Brother Peoples, Future Earth’

The Pope, Angela Merkel and Many Religious Leaders Will Attend Sant’Egidio’s International Meeting ‘Brother Peoples, Future Earth’

Brother Peoples Future Earth
Marco Impagliazzo (C) Acali / Exaudi

Pope Francis will also be at the closing of the International Meeting “Brother Peoples, Future Earth: Religions and Cultures in Dialogue,” organized by Sant’Egidio Community for this coming October 6-7. It is the 35th meeting in the “Spirit of Assisi,” after the historic Day willed by Saint John Paul II in 1986. A meeting from which will emerge forcefully the necessity to say “no” to war without ambiguities and the commitment for the care of our common home. After last year’s online edition, due to the pandemic, the face-to-face meeting is returning to Rome, although with the restrictions due to COVID; it will be held at Nuvola, at Eur, whereas the conclusion is planned for the afternoon of October 7 in the Square in front of the Colosseum.

The Leaders Attending

 The prestigious presence of the Pope is not, however, the only one. The President of the Community, Marco Impagliazzo, presented the event, announcing the participation of many political and religious leaders. Attending, among others, will be the Founder of Sant’Egidio Community, Andrea Riccardi; the Grand Imam of Al Azar al Tayyeb; the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, and Representatives of Hinduism and Buddhism, a well as the President of the Conference of European Rabbis, Pinchas Goldschmidt and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

To be pointed out among the politicians is the presence of Angela Merkel, of the Minister for Tolerance and Coexistence of the Arab Emirates, but also of Jeffrey Sachs, Adviser of the UN Secretary for environmental subjects. Representing Italy will be Minister of the Interior Luciana Lamorgese. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s presence at the closing event is yet to be confirmed.

Fraternity and the Care of the Environment

 The title last year was “No One Is Saved Alone.” This year’s title intends to open a prospect on a world coming out — at least we hope — from the pandemic, thanks to the vaccines,” explained Impagliazzo. The two main themes this year are: “The Universal Fraternity Called for by the Pope in his recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti and the environment, which has a huge reference in Laudato Si’.”

In any case, the common denominator is “the meeting between religions, which is at the base of the Spirit of Assisi. What can be the role of religions? Why hold a new congress?” asked Impagliazzo. “There is need to meet one another, to take up the thread of the discourse to imagine together, also through possible exchanges of opinion behind the scenes, the future of the world.” And not only on these “two guidelines but also on the subject of peace.”

The Afghan Crisis and the Rejection of War

 On this subject, the leader of Sant’Egidio made an explicit reference to the “withdrawal from Afghanistan that shows once again what John Paul II said: war is an adventure without return, it’s an obsolete instrument to solve international crises. In 1986 there was the Cold War, today the world has changed but the theme of peace and dialogue remains central. The meeting intends to listen to the cry for peace that rises from so many peoples and to encourage the agents of peace present in the world at so many levels. They must feel encouraged by this meeting of Rome to understand that to build true peace dialogue is always necessary. We want to arrive at the surmounting of war.” Indirectly connected arguments are: disarmament, which the Pope has at heart but also many religious cultures of Asia,” solidarity, refugees. “It’s all to be written, it’s not all packaged, it will be necessary to work on listening and proposals. The presence of young people will be of help and stimulation.” The Nuvola will be able to host up to 2000 people and many young people from all over Europe are expected. “One thing is certain, to go back, to before the pandemic, would be very grave, it would only lead to new crises and profound lacerations in the life of peoples and persons. It’s necessary to go forward with new ideas, with solidarity, peace and dialogue,” concluded Impagliazzo.

Guests from Forty Countries

The guests at the congress are coming from some 40 countries. “We have doubled the G20,” joked Impagliazzo. The opening assembly entitled “Begin Again Together,” will be held on the afternoon of October 6. On the morning of the 7th, always at Nuvola, four thematic forums are planned: to find the “us” again; the care of our common home; is peace possible?; the future we want; young people in dialogue. Foreseen are the interventions of Representatives of several religions: a Rabbi, a Buddhist, a Russian Orthodox Metropolitan, and an Argentine missionary. The reports will be brief and then each one will have the possibility to take part in the debate to make the congress more dynamic in relation to the previous ones.

The Conclusion at the Colosseum

 There will be two moments in the ceremony at the Colosseum: prayer for peace, in which every religion will pray separately. The Christians will do so altogether, an ecumenical prayer with the commentary of Scripture entrusted to the Catholicos of All the Armenians, Karekin II, in the presence of the Pope. Then the conclusion will include several interventions, among which that of Angela Merkel. “She is a woman symbol of a Europe that has been able to respond to the COVID crisis by re-proposing one of the foundational themes of the Union, which is solidarity. The PNRR is a great choice of European solidarity, for years Merkel has been a leader of this Europe, which has so many problems, beginning with migrations, but which has been able to respond in a solidary way to the needs of citizens affected by the pandemic’s economic and social crisis,” commented Impagliazzo.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester