Making peace in the City of Peace 


I returned from Assisi the other day, having spent one of the most memorable 48 hours of my life. The Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Ecumenical Patriarch, along with leaders from many denominations and the world’s major religions met together on the topic of the thirst for peace. This marks 30 years since Pope John Paul II inaugurated this kind of gathering in Assisi: the city of peace, the home of Francis and Clare. The words of Archbishop Justin at this event, in his usual crisp and memorable way, will stand us in good stead for a long time - read his speech in full on the Lambeth palace website.

"God offers wealth that is real and will bring satisfaction. He calls for us to listen, to eat, to come, to trust".

Drawing inspiration from the Book of Isaiah he said, "...when we receive mercy and peace we become the bearers of mercy (and) peace….we are called to be Christ's voice to the hopeless, calling, "come, to the waters" in a world of drought and despair, giving away with lavish generosity what we have received in grace-filled mercy."

Later there followed a remarkable quote used by Andrea Riccardi, the founder of St Egidio, remembering the words of the orthodox theologian Olivier Clement. 

“Dialogue is the key to the planet’s survival, in  a world in which we have forgotten that war is never a surgically clean solution that allows to expel evil from the world. Dialogue is the heart of peace…”

The St Egidio community have proved this principle over and over again, especially in the peace that they brokered in Mozambique some years ago.  “Assisi 30, Thirst for peace, religions and cultures in dialogue” wasn’t a talk-fest. This was a celebration of what is actually possible if we have faith, hope and love undergirding everything we say and do.
Assisi is the perfect place to hope in this way, to celebrate the hope that is in us from our baptism, from Jesus the Christ, the prince of peace. In Assisi the other day, we were all one in hope, one in spirit and one in person. The world need look nowhere else for its purpose and future.

David Moxon, 23/09/2016