Monday 23 September 2013

Prayer, the Word and loyal friendship as antidotes to diffused violence

Here are two examples among the many that could be mentioned with regards to the work being carried on by the communities of Sant’Egidio in the world to address the increase in violence in the cities and among the youth that are truly becoming  like the peripheries of existence that are the focus of the pastoral preoccupation of Pope Francis. It is a work made of education to peace and non-violence in the Schools for Peace, of dialogue with people and of prayer.
Mozambique, Sub-Saharan Africa.
The country is experiencing severe political and social tensions that sometimes escalate into episodes of
extreme violence. Small-caliber criminality contributes to fueling these tensions which turn into suspicion, night-time vigilantism but also, tragically, the lynching of alleged thieves. In Beira, the local community of Sant’Egidio, who intends to react to this fast-spreading phenomenon, has invited people to join in moments of prayer and meditation aimed at erasing the rancor and the hatred that everyone is feeling inside. This initiative proved fruitful. According to the police’s statistics, no recent case of lynching was reported in those neighborhoods (such as Munhava) in which Sant’Egidio had organized prayers for peace and reconciliation.
El Salvador, Central America.
Since 1992 the Community  has strengthened its presence and its ties of friendship in the neighborhoods of Bambular in San Salvador. El Salvador is submerged by a flood of violence, due to the maras, the youth gangs impregnated by a real blood cult and disrespect for life. This past July 3rd alone, we counted 27 murders. But at Bambular, where Sant’Egidio has been running for years the School for Peace, and where for some time now  people speak out against violence and in favor of peace and of a culture of life, the maras are not taking root.
The Community believes that it can change the world even in the most difficult contexts. It believes in the
weak strength that rises from prayer, a strength of peace and transformation of the hearts which could be felt even recently, in the vigil for Syria of this past September 7th.  Praying for peace, as was done in the Bambular chapel, also means thanking for the gift of a different human atmosphere in the neighborhood due to the long and loyal presence of Sant’Egidio.

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