Sarajevo (AsiaNews) – In his homily in Koševo Stadium before a crowd of 80,000 people of all ages and backgrounds, including some Chinese, Pope Francis focused on a number of points. In his view, making peace, not preaching it, is a task “to be carried forward each day, step by step, without ever growing tired.”
With God’s help, peace, as “God’s gift,” is possible. Through justice, it is possible to resist the “third world war being fought piecemeal” by those “who want conflict between different cultures and societies, and those who speculate on wars for the purpose of selling arms.”
Some of those who were wounded or disabled during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s took part in the Mass "for peace and justice". The Balkan Wars were fought mostly by Muslim Bosniaks, Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats.
With a mixed population (45 per cent Muslim, 36 per cent Orthodox, 15 per cent Catholic, and 3 per cent others, including Jews), Bosnia and Herzegovina could be an example of peace and coexistence for Europe and the world. This is why the Holt Father centred his address on peace, peace building and peacekeeping.
In his homily (in Italian, followed by Bosnian) Francis said that peace is "God’s dream, his plan for humanity, for history, for all creation." Such a plan is always met by “opposition from men and from the evil one." This “kind of third world war [is] being fought piecemeal and, in the context of global communications, we sense an atmosphere of war.”
“Some wish to incite and foment this atmosphere deliberately, mainly those who want conflict between different cultures and societies, and those who speculate on wars for the purpose of selling arms. But war means children, women and the elderly in refugee camps; it means forced displacement of peoples; it means destroyed houses, streets and factories; it means, above all, countless shattered lives. You know this well, having experienced it here: how much suffering, how much destruction, how much pain! Today, dear brothers and sisters, the cry of God’s people goes up once again from this city, the cry of all men and women of good will: war never again!”
Citing the Gospel, the Holy Father said, "Blessed are the peacemakers”. He did not say, “Blessed are the preachers of peace”, since everyone can preach peace, even in a hypocritical, or indeed duplicitous, manner. Instead, he said, “Blessed are the peacemakers”, that is, those who make peace.
Building “peace requires craftsmanship; it requires passion, patience, experience and tenacity. Blessed are those who sow peace by their daily actions, their attitudes and acts of kindness, of fraternity, of dialogue, of mercy . . . These, indeed, ‘shall be called children of God,’ for God sows peace, always, everywhere; in the fullness of time, he sowed in the world his Son, that we might have peace! Peace-making is a work to be carried forward each day, step by step, without ever growing tired.”
“Peace is a work of justice. Here too: not a justice proclaimed, imagined, planned . . . but rather a justice put into practice, lived out. The Gospel teaches us that the ultimate fulfilment of justice is love: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mt 22:39; Rm 13:9). [. . .] True justice, then, is doing to others what I would want them to do to me, to my people (cf. Mt 7:12).”
“[W]e should not fool ourselves into thinking that this all depends on us! We would fall into illusive moralising. Peace is a gift from God, not in the magical sense, but because with his Spirit he can imprint these attitudes in our hearts and in our flesh, and can make us true instruments of his peace. And, going further, the Apostle says that peace is a gift of God because it is the fruit of his reconciliation with us. Only if we allow ourselves to be reconciled with God can human beings become artisans of peace.”
Hope in the name of the children
For the pope, achieving peace, with the help of God and men, is a constant thought. Earlier, after his arrival at Sarajevo airport and meeting with Bosnian authorities, he mentioned with emotion the children – Christians, Muslims, Jews and other minorities – he greeted upon his arrival (pictured).
“I saw this hope today in those children whom I greeted at the airport: Muslims, Orthodox, Jews, Catholics, other minorities, all together and joyful. That is hope. Let us bet on that.”
For Francis, “In this land, peace and harmony among Croats, Serbs and Bosnians, and the initiatives taken to extend these even further, as well as the cordial and fraternal relations among Muslims, Jews and Christians, take on an importance that goes beyond its boundaries. These initiatives offer a witness to the entire world that such cooperation among varying ethnic groups and religions in view of the common good is possible; that a plurality of cultures and traditions can coexist and give rise to original and effective solutions to problems; that even the deepest wounds can be healed by purifying memories and firmly anchoring hopes in the future.”
"In order to successfully oppose the barbarity of those who would make of every difference the occasion and pretext for further unspeakable violence, we need to recognize the fundamental values of human communities, values in the name of which we can and must cooperate, build and dialogue, pardon and grow; this will allow different voices to unite in creating a melody of sublime nobility and beauty, instead of the fanatical cries of hatred.”
After pointing out that "religious freedom" is a fundamental human right, he concluded his address by saying, “leaving behind completely the dark clouds of storms gone by, the Holy See fervently hopes that Bosnia and Herzegovina may continue along the journey embarked upon, so that after the winter chill, springtime may come to blossom.”