Closing ceremony - Bucharest, September 1, 1998


Mr. President of the Republic of Rumania, 
Your Beatitudes and Holiness
Distinguished representatives of the Christian Churches and of the great world Religions,
Dear Friends,
Dear Friends of Bucharest, gathered this evening in such a great number,Thanks to all of you for the warm welcome of these days,

Thanks for having welcomed and followed us with enthusiasm,
Thanks to all those who have been working for the realization of this meeting,
Thanks to those who have enriched it with their presence,
we are now at the end, we are at the closing celebration, in this historical square, where the memory of the martyrdom of many who suffered during the long years of the communist dictatorship still resounds.

Today, we share this memory with the memory of those who have been suffering, who have died and who have been persecuted from the Second World War until now, everywhere in the world.

Let us remember them forever.

Yes, we still remember those who are still suffering in jails, in concentration camps, those who are victims of injustice, who are denied their freedom, who are in slavery, who are condemned to a future which is not worthy. In the silence of this square, come the cries and the expressions of sorrow of those who are suffering so hard. It is like a appeal for all of us to build a more righteous world.

Today, from this square, where, on 1989, a cry for freedom rose for all Rumania, the voice of men and women of religions raises and says both to Rumania and to the whole world: only peace is holy while hate, war and violence are not God's will.

This cry comes from the depth of believers who have grown spiritually during these day's meeting.

Dear friends, during these days in Bucharest we have been looking into each other's eyes, we have been talking, we have been reconciled, we have understood each other, we have loved each other.

This is a commitment for all of us in Rumania and everywhere in the world: to love each other, to understand each other, to be reconciled but also to reconcile, to help the others to understand and to love.

Some among the presents have been living the experience of Joseph while in Egypt, when he moved towards his brothers who were afraid of him, who did not understand that he was their brother. They considered him as an enemy. He made himself known to his brothers and said to them in tears: " I am Joseph, I am your brother" .

During these days, many, coming from various countries and different religious worlds, have been sharing this experience.

But, on these days, also many Rumanians I think, have moved towards one another and have said, embracing each other: "I am Joseph, I am your brother ". This began on Saturday, starting from the Mass celebrated in the Catholic Cathedral.

These days grant us a precious inheritance of peace, an inheritance that cannot be dispersed in the ordinary life. This inheritance is left to Rumania and to the Rumanians. It is granted to the guests who have participated to our meetings. It is an inheritance of trust in dialogue attained through love, patience and respect.

But it is also a conviction that requires a new audacity, especially for religious leaders, that of love, overcoming schemes that are sometimes petrified, schemes of our behaviours and traditions.

It is the humble audacity of who discovers with growing awareness that the servants of God are at the same time the servants of peace, servants of peace among men, among people, among religions. That they, therefore, are required to make a cult to God in peace.

We walked a long way in these years, dear friends, in these annual meetings promoted by the community of Sant'Egidio. For a happy coincidence, the first of September the roman liturgy remembers the memory of the abbot St. Egidio. Today we remember that day on the first of September when German soldiers crossed the Polish border and thus started the second world war with its ensuing chain of horrors. Nine years ago, as Cardinal Glemp remembers, we were in Warsaw with people of various religions to remember and pray, saying: War never again!

We have come at the end of the century. We have worked together! Let's keep these feelings and this unity of hearts, even in the diversity of our histories, cultures and traditions.

The beautiful image of this evening, shining in the diversity of prayers and even of the clothes, composes an harmonic mosaic of peace. May all the men in every place see it, especially those who live in the horror of war, targeted by ethnic and religious hatred. Because this image is a gift that the Lord has made us: this is the day the Lord has made.

We will not dissipate it!