Berlin is the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany, a city that has had an eventful history, particularly in the past two centuries.
A history that has unfortunately also been marked by great suffering: the World War, totalitarianism, the Shoah, division, the Wall. So we look back on a history of great suffering when we come to Berlin. Yet we also think of the unexpectedly positive events that have taken place in this city: the fall of the Wall, which had divided the city of Berlin, and the whole of Germany in two for 28 years.
It was a very long wall, 43 kilometres in the city, 112 kilometres between Berlin and the GDR. The Wall fell, however, thanks to a peaceful revolution. I would like to emphasise, thanks to the audacity of so many who commited – diplomacy, the pressure from people, from civil society, and also thanks to the prayers of so many. Then the time of reunification began for Germany, of course, but also a time of democracy and freedom for tens of millions of people living in what used to be called Eastern Europe.
We can touch all this history with our own hands here in Berlin and understand how the audacity of those who made it possible for the Wall to fall could be our audacity today, the audacity of religions to bring down the great wall that divides the world today, that of war.
There are many walls, as visible as the war in Ukraine, Syria and other parts of the world, and as invisible as those that prevent migrants from reaching our continent or other continents safely and live a better life.
We are here to bring down walls. We are peaceful and united with all religions through unceasing prayer. However, we also wonder how we can be more audacious in bringing down the many walls that divide our world.
We will discuss all of this in twenty forums over two days in Berlin. These days will then conclude with the prayer for peace of the various religions and a great closing ceremony in front of the Brandenburg Gate.
Everyone is invited to be part of this event. Those who cannot attend in person in Berlin can join via social media and the website of the Community of Sant’Egidio. Many of the debates and discussions will be broadcast live.
So, welcome to Berlin for The Audacity of Peace!