Rat Hats: On Hills, In Marches, At Tables....
I shudder at the potential captions....
And here's a shot from the conclusion of the Prayer for Peace on Thursday. One big happy family, complete with an Uncle Ted.... You can find more shots here.
In his address to the gathering, Sant'Egidio founder Andrea Riccardi called war "the mother of all poverty" and reflected on the continuing legacy of John Paul II and his community's place in it:
For twenty years we have been pilgrims of dialogue among people of different religion. We started back in 1986. It was then, that the Pope John Paul II invited the leaders of the different religions to pray, one next to the other, for peace in Assisi. The Cold War was still going on. The pope had understood that religions could be either the gasoline for the flame of conflict or the water that extinguishes the fire of war. At the end of that memorable day, on the hill of Assisi, full of olives branches and swept by wind, next to the tomb of Saint Francis, a prophet of peace, John Paul II said: “Let us continue to spread the message of peace. Let us continue to live the spirit of Assisi”.I'm told the American Cardinals Dinner was, yet again, a stunning success. However, as one caller said following the afternoon Mass, "Francis Cardinal George is conspicuous by his absence."
We in Sant’Egidio, took this seriously. We thought this was a great intuition! The Community of Sant’Egidio, born in Rome in nineteen-sixty-eight, is today spread in seventy countries of the world (twenty-five of them are African countries, and it is also present in the United States). The Community felt it had to take the spirit of Assisi seriously, because it is a great resource of peace.
We work with the poor. Everybody can live Sant’Egidio as a simple life of service and of faith....
We have walked a long way from Assisi to here. Along this path men and women who ignored each other began to see one another as brothers and sisters. Friendships were born, bridges were built. Walls have fallen down. The spirit of Assisi is a wind that blows and that breaks down the barriers that men and women build among themselves and within themselves.
The Spirit of Assisi is the building of bridges. There is a civilization that must be realized in the world. It is the civilization of coexistence, in freedom, in peace and in respect. The proposal that comes from Assisi is not dialogue between experts, it is showing the good of living together: that peace that does not fear diversity.
The spirit of Assisi is not giving up our identity. I speak as a Christian: it is because of my faith that I love the others who do not share it, it is because of my faith that I dialogue with them, that I want to live in peace with them. The spirit of Assisi is not denying differences. It would not be respectful for millions of believers.
Differences exist. We believe in a different way. We pray in a different way. But differences cannot be the reason to hate one another. God does not want hatred. He cannot want war and violence.
And, yes, this was very true.
In making his first major remarks before an audience of US Catholics, however, new apostolic nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi stole the show.
Using the example of Michelangelo's Pietà, Sambi spoke of "how suffering when embraced in fidelity to Christ makes the Virgin more beautiful and how the peace of the Master's face shows that even in death, the love of a mother brings peace," according to a summary of the evening sent my way.
However, the Holy See's man in Washington went on to say that the statue "is not the greatest masterpiece, for Michelangelo worked only with marble, and parents and teachers work with flesh and blood. It is they who are the greatest artists."
Che belle parole!
The evening ended with a blessing from the junior cardinal-priest in attendance, Boston's Sean O'Malley.
PHOTO 1: AP/Dennis Cook
PHOTO 2: Georgetown University