Topics of the meeting: the urgency of resolving the armed conflict in Ukraine, Rondine’s proposal to sensitize governments to the formation of future peace leaders with the “Leaders for Peace” campaign, and the spirit of Franciscanism as a light to renew the commitment to peace.
Bassetti: “Rondine, an example of secular Pentecost that reflects the vocation of the United Nations”
Guterres: “The young people of Rondine are an example of courage. I support this initiative, renewing the invitation for students to return here to the United Nations as soon as possible”
New York, April 22, 2022 – United Nations Secretariat Building. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met H.Em. Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Franco Vaccari President of the Italian organization Rondine Cittadella della Pace, Franciscan writer and columnist Father Enzo Fortunato and changemaker Alessio Antonielli. The meeting occurred the day after the Holy See expressed support for the appeal launched by Guterres himself on April 19th, for a truce on the occasion of Easter according to the Julian calendar.
An intense discussion was held on the difficult commitment to peace also in light of the terrible armed conflict in Ukraine. Cardinal Bassetti spoke of “secular Pentecost“. He spoke of the need to learn to understand the language of the other, to understand and translate oneself, and to practice dialogue. This is Bassetti’s description of the Rondine experience, which then interprets the very mission of the United Nations. The Cardinal stressed how the world carefully watches the work of Secretary-General Guterres and encourages him to move forward in this challenging moment for humanity, to ensure that negotiation and words may replace weapons.
The Secretary-General and Cardinal Bassetti began the meeting by re-lighting the Lamp of Peace. A prize given to the Secretary-General in December 2021, by the Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Convent of Assisi. A symbolic moment to renew the Franciscan spirit in these very challenging historical times.
Secretary-General Guterres expressed his strong appreciation for the work of Pope Francis and asked the Cardinal to convey to the Pope his greetings and the support of the United Nations for the tireless work of this period. Guterres also recognized the strength of the message of St. Francis, which today more than ever resonates as a “compendium of peace”.
The UN Secretary-General also listened with great interest and appreciation to Rondine’s work, accepting the invitation to visit the Cittadella della Pace on the occasion of a future trip to Italy. Thus, underlining the urgency of training leaders to think of the world with new paradigms that drive out the idea of war from human history.
“The young people of Rondine are an example of courage. I can only support this initiative, renewing the invitation for students to return here to the United Nations as soon as possible”, said Antonio Guterres.
A new meeting with “the witnesses of a seemingly impossible dialogue, so that from the United Nations they may show the world the prophecy of peace”, added Bassetti. He then presented Rondine’s work, in particular the global Leaders for Peace campaign of the international students at Cittadella della Pace, from areas of conflict and post-conflict, who aim to sensitize Governments to the training of young people for peace. So that they can become future peace leaders capable of facing conflict, by avoiding the degeneration into hatred, violence or the most dramatic consequences, war.
The campaign was launched in 2018 at the UN Headquarters, on the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. The activities continued despite the pandemic, collecting the important endorsements of Pope Francis, President Mattarella, the Governments of Italy and Costa Rica and the President of the European Economic and Social Committee. Ending with the recognition of the special consultative status by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations to Rondine. The campaign today inevitably finds new impetus in the light of the situation in Ukraine, which proves the dramatic need for a new peace leadership capable of averting armed conflict.
“With this new, extraordinary and determined support by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am confident that the campaign will find crucial new members. Leaders for Peace and its project – the Global Leaders School in Rondine – already represents a concrete response to the urgent need for a society finally free from armed conflict”, declared Franco Vaccari, President of Rondine.
“With respect to the human madness of war and after years of the constant increase in military spending around the world, I gladly brought the Rondine youth campaign to the attention of the Secretary-General, as a concrete example of the spirit of peace symbolized by the Lamp of Assisi. The campaign requests governments to take on commitments that they can and must support”, commented Cardinal Bassetti.
During the long and fruitful meeting, Father Enzo Fortunato declared, “I wanted to personally hand over to the Secretary-General some photographs that I was able to collect on my recent trip to Ukraine, where I saw the atrocity and pain that are taking place in that land. We need concrete projects, young people who, like in Rondine, keep the light of peace alight. I am happy that the Secretary-General has accepted the proposal of a new meeting after his trip to Ukraine with young people from countries in conflict. It is true what the Secretary–General mentioned, that St. Francis is a compendium for achieving peace.”