Aachen 2003

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September 9, Tuesday - Katschhof
Final Ceremony


Heinrich Mussinghoff
Bishop of Aachen, Germany

Dear sisters and brothers!

All of you, who love peace!

Honourable personalities and esteemed Excellencies of the Christian churches, communities and great world religions!

Dear guests from religion, politics and culture!

Dear friends of peace!

The days of the peace meeting in Aachen come to an end. Delighted after many talks and experiences, moved by gestures and words of comprehension and friendship, we are concluding this meeting. We prayed for peace in the cathedral, the synagogue and mosque, and in other places. We made the pilgrimage of peace visible in our peace procession to the Katschhof. Now it is time for: “Light a candle, say a prayer”. Commit yourself to the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi: “Lord make me an instrument of your peace...”

We see the dove with the olive leaf of peace which Noah sent forth from the ark and which has rested here in Aachen in these days. We see the dove above the coloured rainbow, which announces God’s peace. We are saying that the dove may fly to bring the message of peace to the families, to groups in conflict, to fighting parties, to hostile peoples. We are supposed to be and want to be this dove of peace. We want to bring this spirit of Assisi, which has inspired us year after year, to the places where we live. I want to say to you with psalm 34, which Benedict of Nursia has already cited in the prologue of his monastic rules: “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Ps 34:15). We know: True peace, which is a gift and a task of God alike; can only grow in an active process, brought to life by the alert spirit for justice and love. Our longing for peace, our passion for freedom and justice, our love of the poor and disadvantaged of this earth are our driving forces: seek peace and pursue it.

On this day, there are people among us who have lived this message of peace and have suffered for it:

– Abuna Paulos, the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia, who suffered 20 years in the prisons of a totalitarian regime;

– Sister Emmanuelle who was a mother for the “garbage people” of Cairo;

– Bishop Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal who fell in the hands of the Columbian guerrilla and was released;

– Paul Spiegel, President of the Central Committee of Jews in Germany whose immediate relatives were murdered in the Holocaust;

– Sister Helen Prejean, who fights courageously against the death penalty in the world because she knows how much the condemned suffer

– Archbishop Jaime Pedro Gonçalves who has done so much for peace in Mozambique

– Many Muslims and people from Asian religions who have suffered for peace.

The list could easily be continued.

We want to remember the dead, who became victims because they performed a peace mission,

who became victims because of their faith, their religion, their conviction,

victims of terror, violence and war,

children and young people, men and women, old people.

We remember the children, who live on the streets and the child soldiers,

those girls and women who were raped and have been forced into prostitution

the people who suffer from HIV and die of hunger,

those who die of fear and pain,

those who only have contaminated water to drink and are carried off by epidemics,

the victims of exploiting business and politics.

In his book “Salt of the earth, Light of the earth”, Andrea Riccardi described the martyrdom of so many people in the 20th century in a very moving way – we remember them.

We remember the countless victims of wars and of terrorism in Iraq, in the Middle East and in Israel, in Columbia and Chechnya, in Afghanistan and Sudan, in Liberia and Ivory Coast, in Congo, in Ruanda and Burundi,

the victims of the attacks of September 11th, 2001 in New York and Washington.

We know that wars do not break out, wars are made. We need people who are dedicated to the principle of responsibility, the observance of human rights, and ethics of peace.

“It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”, says the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Abraham Kook. Therefore, this is what we do today: Light a candle, say a prayer”.

Tonight, I thank Andrea Riccardi and the community of Sant’Egidio and everyone, who has helped in the preparations and realization, for their encouragement in this year’s peace meeting.

I thank Pope John Paul II for his message of peace and for his persistent interest in this annual peace prayer; he is the real initiator and promoter of these meetings. I would like to ask you, Eminence Etchegaray, to express our gratitude to the Holy Father.

I want to thank all those from all religions who have contributed with important speeches, messages and mediations in this peace meeting.

I am very pleased about quite some initiative, agreement and friendship, which have started in these days.

All of you, the representatives of different world religions and cultures of this earth were and are our dear guests and ambassadors of peace in different countries.

Most of all, I want to thank all of you who have attended the different round tables and taken an active part in the events.

I am very proud of you, the hospitable people of Aachen in the city and diocese, the helping neighbours and the many participants. All of you are moving and moved people who set peace in motion: “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it” (Ps 34:15). I wish all of us this longing for peace, this passion for freedom and justice, this compassion with the poor and disadvantaged.

Together with you, I would like to speak the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi:

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

when there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is dispair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

Grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console;

to be understood, as to understand,

to be loved as to love;

for it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.

Signore, fa di me un strumento della tua pace.

And now we will do it: Light a candle, say a prayer.

Good bye.

Shalom, Salaam, MHR, peace, Friede, pace, vrede, paix.



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