The Religions G8 sets out from L’Aquila
The religious leaders who assembled in L’Aquila this morning to open the Fourth Religions Summit sent out an appeal to the world’s major countries to take account of the ethical and spiritual aspects of peace, development and the major world issues. The over 100 delegates representing all the world confessions wanted to voice their sympathy and moral support for the communities hit by the earthquake.
“We know that no future of peace for all is conceivable unless we start out from the places of greatest suffering. That is why we have wanted to start with a pilgrimage to the centre of a wounded city.” Such were the introductory words spoken by the chair of the CEI [Italian Episcopal Council]’s Episcopal Commission on Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, Vincenzo Paglia, at the opening ceremony in L’Aquila’s cathedral square.
He was followed by Orthodox Patriarch Albuna Paulos of the Ethiopian Church, speaking on behalf of all the religions, who voiced his moral support for the earthquake-stricken communities, “because it is as if whatever happens in one part of the world happens in the whole of the world. In other parts of the world, there are people who are being forgotten, who live in poverty and persecution or suffer the hardships of war,” he added.
The ceremony was also attended by civic and political authorities, including the city’s bishop, Monsignor Molinari, and Civil Protection Department Chief Guido Bertolaso, who welcomed the religious delegation, emphasising that its meeting was the first G8 in L’Aquila, because they were the first international delegates to meet in the square where the G8 leaders would be gathering in July. A plaque was unveiled at the end of the meeting and will be laid once the rebuilding work, due to the damages caused by the eathquake, get under way on the cathedral.
The religious leaders returned to Rome at the end of their visit for an audience at the Quirinale. The evening saw the opening,, at Villa Madama, of the first session of the proceedings, which will generate conclusions for submission to the July G8. Both Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini and Cardinale Jean-Louis Tauran, chair of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, delivered welcoming addresses.
This year’s is the fourth religious leaders’ meeting, following in the wake of those held to coincide with the Moscow, Cologne and Sapporo meetings.