2022 (EN)

The second edition of "Mediterranean Frontier of Peace" was held in Florence. It was organised by the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) together with the Municipality of Florence, which jointly organised a meeting of Mediterranean Mayors in the footsteps of Giorgio La Pira.
"That experienced by the mayors and bishops of the Mediterranean is an important moment - said the President of the Foundation Michele Capasso, who has been committed to Peace in the Mediterranean for thirty years when few paid attention to the region - and these days in which mayors, prelates, experts and volunteers were able to compare notes and listen is a significant act just when in Ukraine an atrocious war is looming in the heart of Europe, on the borders of the Mediterranean".
President Capasso recalled the friendship between his father Raffaele (Mayor of San Sebastiano al Vesuvio) and Giorgio La Pira, his meeting - while still a teenager - with the visionary Mayor who left an indelible mark on his education.
"Cardinal Bassetti, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, said: "By coming together and listening to each other, mayors and bishops signed a common declaration, 'The Charter of Florence', in which points emerged that are close to everyone's heart, regardless of their different worldviews and religions. A marvellous fact while a crazy war is going on in Ukraine bringing death and destruction". "But the clock of history does not want to stop its hands in Florence", continued Cardinal Bassetti, "on the contrary, it wants the hour of peace and dialogue to resound continuously".
The Italian Bishops' Conference president then turned his thoughts to Giorgio La Pira, who was mayor of Florence in the early 1960s and who saw the Mediterranean as "a sea that unites and does not divide", "the 'great lake of Tiberias' overlooked by the civilisations that belong to the 'triple family of Abraham'". For Cardinal Bassetti, the encounter between these civilisations "can change the history not only of the Mediterranean, but of the entire world". Let me tell you," the cardinal declared energetically, "God has called us here in Florence against all adversity, against all difficulties, against all wars. And quoting La Pira again, the cardinal stressed the need to break down walls and build bridges between the Mediterranean peoples, to "unite what has been divided for centuries", to unite, in the name of human brotherhood, as the Pope stated in the Abu Dhabi document, to unite for peace.
Lastly, Cardinal Bassetti thanked the mayors and bishops for the "wonderful work" they have done in recent days that has given rise to the "Florence Charter", inviting them to take the document to their cities, schools, religious communities and parishes, to spread it, to disseminate it, but above all to embody it. For the Cardinal, this Charter is the testimony that there is a Mediterranean conscience, "it is a social pact, a pact of friendship". "The Florence Charter is truly a ray of sunshine at a time when all around us we hear the sound of weapons and there seems to be so much darkness.
The full text of Cardinal Bassetti's speech, published on the Italian Bishops' Conference website, recalls the sad definition that Pope Francis has repeatedly given of the Mediterranean Sea: "the largest cemetery in Europe". In recent years, thousands of men, women and children have lost their lives crossing this sea in search of a better life or fleeing a war," the cardinal remarked. "This dramatic emergency deeply challenges us as Christians and as human beings. We cannot remain indifferent to the great migratory flow that has been characterising the Mediterranean for some time now. We must therefore come to the rescue and help". For the president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, it is also necessary to see migration "not just as a problem but as a great opportunity. An opportunity to transform our cities into places of welcome and hospitality". But Cardinal Bassetti also highlighted the other emergency that is shaking the world, "the dramatic news and the even more disturbing images coming from Ukraine", which tell of a new "humanitarian tragedy". "My thoughts and prayers go out to all those people who are now in underground shelters and to those who are fleeing," confided Cardinal Bassetti, who launched an appeal "to all those who are fighting": "I would like to use the simple words of an old priest: please, I beg you, stop! In the name of God, no to war!"