Our Editorial Director reflects on Pope Francis’ words in Bahrain at the closing of the Forum for Dialogue and Coexistence between East and West.
By Andrea Tornielli – Awali, Bahrain
Although here in Awali, in the headquarters of the King of Bahrain, we are a long way from the bloody conflict that has broken out in the heart of Christian Europe, Pope Francis has returned to call for an end to the war in Ukraine. The island in the Gulf is far from Eastern Europe, but is close to Yemen, another one of the ‘pieces’ of that unique Third World War, the Pope speaks of increasingly often, and with growing concern.
First of all, one can be struck by an observation: after two tremendous World Wars, after the Cold War, “that for decades kept the world in suspense, catastrophic conflicts taking place in every part of the globe, and in the midst of accusations, threats and condemnations, we continue to find ourselves on the brink of a delicate precipice and we do not want to fall…” Poised on the brink… A graphic image of the absolute precariousness in which the whole of humanity finds itself living today in the face of the risk of a nuclear conflict with incalculable consequences.
Pope Francis underlines a contrast, indeed a real paradox: on the one hand there is the majority of the world’s population afflicted by hunger, injustice, ecological crises and pandemics. On the other there is a handful of ‘a powerful few’, who play with fire, concentrating in a struggle for their own interests, and exhume old languages “redesigning spheres of influence and opposing blocs.” Decades of dialogue and openness, decades of steps towards building international relations no longer governed only by the law of the strongest and by old military alliances, now seem to be melting and vanishing like snow in the sun.
The Pope describes what is happening as “a dramatic and childlike scenario.” Instead of thinking about the future of humanity, there are those who “play with fire, with missiles and bombs, with weapons that bring sorrow and death.” Weeping and death are the sad consequences, when, instead of dialogue and mutual understanding, oppositions are accentuated and one persists in imposing “one’s own despotic, imperialist, nationalist and populist models and visions.” Economic and ideological colonisation or nostalgia for imperialist greatness undermine peace, the security of us all and the future of the world.
The invitation that the Pope reiterates from Bahrain is not to remain indifferent. It is the invitation to listen “to the cry of the common people and the voice of the poor,” ceasing to “distinguish in a Manichean way who is good and who is bad” and instead making the effort “to understand each other and to cooperate for the good of all.”
In a world that has become a “global village” but has not assimilated the “spirit of the village,” a characteristic of which is fraternity, religions have the task of pointing the way to peace.
“The believer,” the Bishop of Rome exclaimed in front of his Christian brothers and sisters of other confessions, and leaders of Muslims and other religions, “is the one who forcefully says ‘no’ to the “blasphemy of war and the use of violence’ and also opposes ‘the race to rearmament, the commerce of war, the market of death.”
Source: Vatican News