(June 11th, 2016). “Do religions help to make peace? Are they an asset?” Franco Vaccari, President of Rondine, opened with these words the inauguration of the “interreligiouse-Hug” yesterday, June 10th, in the Citadel of Peace of Arezzo, during the second day of YouTopic Fest, at the presence of religious leaders of the three great monotheistic religions, Joseph Levi, chief Rabbi of Florence, Izzedin Elzir, national president Ucoii and Nunzio Galantino, Secretary general of the CEI, as well as the Minister for the Environment Gianluca Galletti representing civil society.

“We want to build civilization of the embrace, and what we inaugurate is a symbol through which religions embrace but remain different from one another. – continues Vaccari – This is exactly what young people who came to Rondine did in these last two decades. They shared their cultures, traditions and religions without giving up their identity, enriching them through meeting, accepting the other”.

The “interreligious-Hug” represents a structure that combines a mosque, a synagogue and a church, separated but intertwined worship spaces facing each other in a single square that becomes the meeting place of the word, where the values produced by spirituality converge, contributing to the construction of civil society.

“It’s a symbol, a prototype that will hopefully change the profiles of all the cities in the world. A small, beautiful and sustainable citadel could constitute a model for cities of the future.” says President Vaccari introducing the Environment Minister, Gianluca Galletti.
“I am proud to be a friend of Rondine – says Galletti – here the atmosphere is different, you retrieve those values ​​that are likely to be forgotten, such as silence. When you shout no one listens and those walls that hide selfishness are raised. But the embrace is stronger than any wall: this is the message that comes from Rondine and there won’t probably be any other war if we only remember this. Today we need hugs, not walls.”

“I have a special bond with Rondine and I have the dream of environmental protection. I want Rondine to launch the Sustainable Citadel model. The Ministry, together with President Vaccari, will work on this project. On 2015, in Paris, 193 countries agreed to implement policies against climate change because they are one of the main threats to the survival of our planet. We need a clear signal and it could come from this reality”.

To welcomer the religious representatives, Rondine students, Astanda, Artsrun and Bruna, chose the symbolic furnishings of their respective countries. The Christian students have carried the cross as “a symbol of our salvation, measure of love”, for the Jewish religion Tzlil donated a page of the Sidur, the prayer book, finally Ibrahim, a Muslim student, took the page of the third sura of the Koran: “according to our faith which reminds us that God’s name means peace.”

Beautiful words from Joseph Levi, chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Florence and Tuscany, who stressed that “this embrace is the symbol of the daily effort of going towards the other, of mutual love, overcoming obstacles. Citing an ancient Talmudic proverb “we have to receive every person and try to judge it by his good side.” “So we can bring to light the divine part that everyone carries within itself, to let God shines”.

Significant intervention of Izzedin Elzir, national president Ucoii, representing the Muslim religion: “we are here today to see this beautiful reality, which shows that with simplicity we can communicate and support each other by coming together with our differences as richness. Today Rondine demonstrates this ability to welcome diversity.”

Finally, Nunzio Galantino, Secretary general of CEI brought the emotional closeness of the Italian bishops and Pope Francis to the world of Rondine. Inviting share his message: “The crucified Christ is risen, he is the one who gives us the clearest reading of human history. Let’s engage ourselves as He did. We share joys and sorrows. Let us not forget our brothers who lost their lives, such as migrants. Working together is the first way to give real consistency to dialogue. Let us not stop at the ideological level. Let’s work together to enhance the project of Rondine. When good grows becomes contagious.”

The opening ceremony, introduced by Fra Matteo Brena, Commissioner of the Holy Land of the Franciscan Friars Minor, has seen among the participants  Aisha Lazzerini, representing the COREIS, Italian Islamic Religious Community, who recalled how in Islam God is unity in diversity and diversity against the chaos of war and conflict. Archimandrite Nikolaos Papadopoulos, representing the Holy Orthodoxy in Italy and Malta, wanted to bring the greetings of the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, who by his visit last November paid tribute to the Citadel. Then Giorgio Biguzzi, retired Bishop of Makeni, with his 35 years experience in a country with a Muslim majority. His memory goes to Pope John Paul II “The war does not begin on the battlefield but in the hearts of men.” Padre Egidio Canil, representing the Sacred Convent of Assisi brought with him the greeting of St. Francis: “May the Lord give you peace”, because only God can create peace if the man knows how to accept the gift of God.

Numerous participation of the civil authorities took part in the event, including the Mayor Alessandro Ghinelli that the day after received the representatives of the Rondini d’Oro (former students) in the Council Chamber city ​​of Arezzo.

After the ceremony President Vaccari delivered a letter to every single former student, destined to the mayors of their cities. “As ambassadors of peace you will be messengers of Rondine’s challenge so that the “Interreligious Hug” could one day arise around the world as a symbol of a new community, ready to welcome diversity and religions’ encounter”. At the end of the inauguration, participants were invited to enter the structure and, after a moment of private prayer, the square has seen the real embrace of all those who in Rondine have already accepted the challenge of the meeting.

YouTopic Fest is part of “Piazze di Maggio” project started in 2009 with the support of the Cultural project of CEI, to bring a message of peace.



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