Maria Voce: “Reinventing peace”
Maria Voce “Every day we are presented with images of a world torn by conflicts of all kinds; we see walls being built, migrants and refugees fleeing from poverty and war; and contrasting forms of political self-interest fail to consider the human consequences of their actions.”
This was Focolare President Maria Voce’s description of the world scene today, in a talk read on her behalf by Catherine Belzung. This world scene, she recalled, has often been described by Pope Francis as a “piecemeal third world war”. Its violence is unconventional, ubiquitous and pervasive; it is hard to defeat with the tools used up to now. … These conflicts can only be ended through collective commitment, not only on the part of the international community but by the community of all people in the world. No one can consider themselves excluded from this process. It must go through our streets, into our workplaces, our educational establishments, into sports centres and places of entertainment, communication and worship. The response to the “piecemeal world war” is to build world peace “one piece at a time”, through small steps, and concrete gestures. Everyone has a role to play. Everyone is responsible.”
Maria Voce emphasised the commitment of international organisations, civil society, associations and movements. She mentioned her own movement which draws on the experience of 70 years of work for unity and peace initiated by Chiara Lubich and taken ahead in the most varied parts of the world in a 360ͦ dialogue, with in the Christian world, with other religions and with people of non-religious beliefs. It is a dialogue “founded on receptivity to people, on a deep understanding of their choices and ideas, appreciating all that is beautiful and positive, all that we might hold in common and that can create bonds. Fraternity can give rise to projects and actions in the complex political, economic, cultural and social fabric of our world.
Fraternity Maria Voce affirmed, quoting Chiara Lubich “can give rise to projects and actions in the complex political, economic, cultural and social fabric of our world. Fraternity brings peoples out of their isolation and can offer the opportunity for development to those still excluded from it. It shows us how to resolve differences peacefully and relegates war to history books. Fraternity in action allows us to dream and even to hope for some kind of communion of goods between rich countries and poor countries, given that the scandalous economic inequality in today’s world is one of the main causes of terrorism. The deep need for peace expressed by humanity today shows that living as brothers and sisters is not only a value, not only a method, but is a global paradigm for political development».
“On these foundations, Maria Voce continued, it is possible to rethink peace, indeed to reinvent it.” She gave some examples, first of all a profound commitment to dialogue; engaging in projects that are not conditioned by short term or partial interests; breaking down the walls of indifference and acting responsibly to reduce inequality; promoting a culture of legality and caring for creation.
Reinventing peace means loving our enemies. … Reinventing peace means forgiveness. Forgiveness is not the opposite of international justice but makes it possible for relationships to start again on a different footing. … This is why work is needed in terms of education and culture. We need to invest in knowledge and learning, as this Institution does … Lastly, reinventing peace means loving other countries as our own, loving other peoples, ethnicities and cultures as our own.