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How to heal our common home, religions and culture in dialogue

“Neutrality and inactivity in the face of evil are by itself evil”. So Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis, called to action against the false religious prophets who revive “barbaric and inhuman practices from over a thousand years ago” in his address to leaders of the world’s religions and government leaders at the 35th International meeting for peace organized last week in Rome by the Sant’Egidio Community, a worldwide Catholic charity and peace group.
Titled “Peoples as brothers, future, earth” the event, which took place at the Colosseum, saw the participation of prestigious speakers and the final message was by Pope Francis, who called the arms trade a bane of humanity, saying that money spent on weapons should be diverted to feed the hungry and distribute vaccines fairly. Equal distribution is not only a matter of humanity but the sole way to deal with the pandemic, as Rabbi Goldschmidt pointed out (here an integral version of his speech).
“If there is one thing which this vicious and treacherous virus taught the world, is the total interdependence of humanity. Even if rich countries will vaccinate each one of their citizens, ignoring the third world, a new mutation coming from there might render their vaccine irrelevant and obsolete.
Covid-19 taught to all of us humility and vulnerability. Mankind which was able to reach the planet Mars, was humiliated by this unseen microscopic creature, creating havoc in our lives. But the virus also reminded us of our interdependence on each other. How much did we miss the smile, hug and kiss of the other?”.
The opening assembly dealt with key ideas such as “Starting over together”, “Taking care of our common home”, “The future we want” and saw various contributions also from the Jewish side.
Marco Impagliazzo, current president of Sant’Egidio, introduced the assembly. Universal fraternity and future Earth, he reminded, are two essential concepts on which to work synergistically. “Religions – his thought – have the task of showing us that we can walk together”. It is a necessary effort if “we want to save the world and if we want to work for a world that is very different from the one that the pandemic gave us or that we experienced because of it”. In this sense, he quoted Rav Jonathan Sacks, according to whom “In times of division it is necessary to re-establish the common good”.
The ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, the archbishop of Canterbury and primate of the Church of England Justin Welby, the sheykh vicar of the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Mohamed Al-Duwaini, the minister of Interior minister Luciana Lamorgese and the sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al, Minister of Tolerance and coexistence of the United Arab Emirates took part to the meeting.
“Authentic peace relies on the will of dialogue”, said Minister Lamorgese, who focused on the open problems in a world in which “violence, oppression, conflicts, and hate speech based on indifference and contempt explode and every day are renewed”. Respect for “diversity”, protection of minorities: this, she stressed, is the way to go.
Of great interest, among others, is the report by the minister of the Arab country, protagonist in these months of a new era of diplomatic relations with the State of Israel. “Tolerance – he remarked – rewards the brave with peace, harmony, and prosperity”.