Barcelona, a city to live together

Lluís Martínez Sistach's picture
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From the 3rd to the 5th of October, Barcelona held the 25th International Meeting of Prayer for Peace. Without exaggeration, we can say that this Meeting was a success. We can also say that 5,000 people from other countries went back home after having fallen in love with Barcelona as well as the other cities in Catalonia where related-events took place, such as Tarragona, Vic, Manresa, Terrassa, Badalona, and Sant Feliu de Llobregat.

Barcelona is an example of “a city to live together”, said our friends from the Community of Sant’Egidio. “Coexistence” or “living together” was a very present theme in the Meeting’s debates. The event’s motto was: “Living together in times of crisis. Family of the people, family of God.”

Barcelona already hosted this event in early September of 2001. Some days after this Meeting, the attacks against the Twin Towers and other American places occurred. This act preceded a decade of fear and international tension in which other bombing attacks have happened in several places across the world, resulting in many victims.

Before this situation, the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace, through the “humble force” of prayer, wanted to make the 21st century’s second decade, which we will be starting very soon, a decade of dialogue and coexistence that respects diversities. Either we live together, or we make war, was said during the Meeting.

The Barcelona Meeting focused on dialogue and living together. It showed that religions, often accused of being sources of conflict and war, may be, and in fact already are in many places, vectors for peace and social cohesion.

Looking at the world, we have once again been able to confirm that the Community of Sant’Egidio performs very worthy work mainly in the African continent with programmes such as the so-called “Dream” project to help HIV/AIDS patients and the newer programme “Bravo”, which aims at fostering child inscriptions at the civil register. Many children who are not registered may be victims of all kinds of abuses and exploitations. The Community of Sant’Egidio does not ignore Africa. On the contrary, it makes it a main focus of its actions in the fields of education, health promotion, reconciliation and peace. And it does not do it from the side of political power. It does not hold this power nor does it want it. It does so using the human and divine tools of friendship and prayer.

Last year, I had the pleasure of attending the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace in Krakow. There, Dr. Andre Ricardi, the founder of the Community of Sant’Egideo, asked me to announce that the next meeting would be in Barcelona. I did so. I still remember the large applause with which this announcement was received. I am convinced that the Community’s members who participated in the Barcelona Meeting did not regret such decision. They told us something that pleases and obliges us: “Ci piace la Catalogna, terra di llibertà”.

Next year, the Meeting will take place in Munich, Baviera, Benedict XVI’s motherland.  From this moment on, we hope that the visit to this so influential Centre-European country allows us, with God’s help, to consolidate and strengthen the so-called “Assisi spirit” in Europe and in the entire world. We aim for a more human world, which will also be more Christian.


Dr. Lluís Martínez Sistach

Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona

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