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Religion and Society

Providence has given a task to the peoples of Abraham

Dear Friends,

 

 

Allow me to outline the configurations of my reflections connected with this meeting and the 'premise' entrusted to me with which you wanted this meeting to be introduced. Why, I asked myself, did my friends of the Regional Government of Sardinia and the Ipalmo give me this mandate?

 

The answer could only be this (and for that matter this has often been discussed with many of you): because in Florence, beginning in the year 1956, we have had a certain singular experience of the very complex (historical, spiritual, cultural, social, economic, military and political) problems of the peoples of the Mediterranean and because this experience has taken place in the light of a guiding idea, of a work hypothesis, that the Mediterranean, European and international events of the last fifteen years have not, or so we believe, in the least weakened, but instead, in a certain sense, have confirmed.

 

 

There are, therefore, three questions that have to be addressed:

 

1. What has this experience been?

 

2. What has been the guiding idea, the work hypothesis, in whose light it has taken place?

 

3. What is the contemporary validity of this experience and of the guiding idea that has shaped and directed it?

 

 

Before answering in the form of an essential outline these questions, allow me to tell you frankly (I am speaking in particular to my Arab friends): you know that we have never had (in Florence) any other aim than that of helping the historic emergence of the Arab peoples (in general the historic emergence of new peoples, those of Bandung) and of helping them in their process of historical, social, economic and political liberation and emancipation from the Western powers.

 

 

We all of us have done this not only through study meetings and with instruments of reflection (which are also very useful, one readily understands): we have also done this by employing essential technical, economic and political instruments so as to help this process of historic promotion in an effective way. One need only remember the decisive role that was played in this action of liberation and emancipation from 1956 onwards by Fanfani and the unforgettable Mattei.

 

 

I will never forget the telephone call of 5 September 1956 (from the Roman buildings of the Egyptian embassy) made by Taha Hussein, Fanfani and me to Nasser to tell him that we were near to him during that dramatic and decisive moment in the history of Egypt and the whole of the Arab nation (we were at that time going through the hardest moment of the sad Suez war).

 

 

It was after that telephone call that I thought of involving Mattei and having him go to Cairo in order to offer his cooperation (through a suitable energy policy) as regards the development of the industrial and economic system of Egypt.

 

 

This triangular 'liberating' action Florence, Fanfani, Mattei rapidly reached the whole of the Arab and Mediterranean world: it extended to Morocco (I cannot help remembering the unexpected and very significant and effective visit of Mohammed V to Florence during the winter of 1957); passed through Tunisia (where the process for political liberation was still underway); and was in a certain sense the deciding force in the subsequent liberation of Algeria (a process that began in Florence with the first Mediterranean Colloquium of 4 October 1958 and ended at Evian with the Franco-Algerian peace treaty of 19 March 1962).

 

 

Beginning in 1957, this 'triangular action' covered the whole of the Mediterranean world (including Libya); then reached the Asian world (one thinks here of Iran); it then covered the whole of the continent of Africa (the last meeting of Mattei in Florence was the one held on 4 October 1962 with Senghor); and was already well set to reach Eastern Europe, the USSR, Latin America, India, and in a greater and deeper way China (the great establishments of Ravenna 'had their eyes on' China).

 

 

These references, which would deserve a broad reflection and analysis, are sufficient to demonstrate in concrete terms the historic and political choice made in Florence beginning in 1956 in favour of the emerging Arab peoples and in favour in general of all emerging peoples (the Bandung peoples) during that very new stage in the new history of the world. To our Arab friends here in this meeting we can thus say fraternally: you know that what we have done, the ideas that have guided us, the plans that have been drawn up and in which we still believe, all have their basis in a 'sense of history', and thus in an incontestable historical, spiritual, cultural, social and political friendship. The facts speak for themselves: rebus ipsis dictantibus!

 

 

So you can trust us. We have always striven and we have always sought the good of the Arab nations in the interwoven and global context of the Mediterranean nations (Israel included, therefore) and of all the nations of the world in the context that does not have an alternative (that is to say), during this atomic age, of unity, justice, and peace between the peoples of the whole planet.

 

 

What has been the nature of this experience?

 

It has been this: an action in favour of all the peoples of the Mediterranean for their convergence and peaceful co-existence, which had in a certain sense in the first Mediterranean Colloquium of Florence of 4 October 1958 its 'place' and its 'instrument of maturation' an action, that is to say, that has sought a global (in the sense of perspectives) solution to the problems of these peoples.

 

 

This action has had successes (the peace between France and Algeria signed in Evian on 19 March 1962 had its roots in the Colloquium of Palazzo Vecchio and also the reduction in tension between Tunisia and France) and failures (the tension between Israel and the Arab world which certainly had pauses involving a reduction in tension after the Colloquium but which unfortunately is still strong and which, indeed, was aggravated by the Six Days' War of 1967): an action, however, that we have never suspended and which has been engaged in with greater commitment since the war of 1967; with trips in 1967 and 1968 to Paris, Jerusalem and Cairo and the further initiatives of recent years; an action that has never ceased to demonstrate amongst all the peoples of the world (in a special and urgent way in the case of Vietnam) its indomitable hope, the hope of Abraham: spes contra spem!

 

 

The shape, the architecture, of this experience was simple: it was a matter of calling the peoples of the Mediterranean to converge towards Florence; to make them meet in S. Croce (in memory of St. Francis and his action of peace carried out in the thirteenth century with the Sultan) and in Palazzo Vecchio; and to begin in Florence, at the time of this meeting, that fabric of global negotiations and negotiations of peace which was intended to give unity, justice and peace to all the peoples of the Mediterranean of the one family of Abraham and was destined to make a new and essential contribution to the new history and the new civilisation of the world.

 

 

This idea sprouted through the contacts that had been made in 1956, 1957, and the early months of 1958, with Nasser, with King Hussein, with Mohammed V, with the Algerian FLN, with Ben Gurion, with the leaders of Tunisia, with Gronchi and with Fanfani, with General De Gaulle, and with qualified representatives of the Holy See Pius XII sent a telegram of blessing to the Colloquium exactly five days before his death. 'The problems of the Mediterranean involve solidarity and require a single, solidarity-inspired solution. Call all the peoples of the Mediterranean to Florence and have them come together and make peace in Florence', Mohammed V said to me in 1957 in Piazzale Michelangelo, looking with a contemplative and almost prophetic gaze at the liberating, pacifying and unifying beauty of Florence.

 

 

We very enthusiastically accepted the invitation and threw out our net! So it was that we organised the Mediterranean Colloquium (with the essential help of the Etudes Méditerranées); we called the peoples (and the states) of the whole of the Mediterranean to come to Florence on 4 October 1958, without any examples of discrimination and without any exclusions (inviting everyone, that is to say Israelis, French and Algerians).

 

Were they going to come? Would Algerians and Frenchmen, Arabs and Israelis meet in Florence? There were doubts but hope prevailed; faith prevailed; the attractive and pacifying beauty of Florence prevailed. 'The miracle of convergence' took place: the praying of all the cloistered convents of the world that we involved for this great hope was truly effective: 'quidquid orantes petite et credite quia accipietis et fiet vobis!'.

 

 

All of the Mediterranean peoples went up to the 'second Jerusalem' (as Savonarola called Florence) and there they met (in S. Croce and in Palazzo Vecchio) to speak about peace and to work for peace.

 

'Unofficial' Algerian (of the FLN) and French delegations; the French ambassador also came, albeit half puzzled, but General De Gaulle had adhered to the initiative; delegations of Arabs and Israelis; Morocco, with the Crown Prince and many ministers; Tunisia with Bourghiba junior and Masmudi; Algeria, with Boumengel, Bouteflika, Amrouche and others of the FLN; Egypt, with Ambassador Okacha, with Henein; Syria came, and so too did Jordan, the Lebanon, etc.; and Israel as well, with Ambassador Fischer with other qualified diplomatic and cultural representatives; and Italy was represented by the President of the Republic, Gronchi, and the premier (and foreign minister) Fanfani.

 

The Colloquium was chaired by the Crown Prince of Morocco. Figures of 'primary importance' took part, as well as figures from Mediterranean politics, economics and culture. One need only recall Massignon, Danielou and Amrouche, as well as the journalists J. Rous, Lacouture, Golan, J. Daniel, Rouleau and others from France and the whole of Europe. The problems of the peoples of the Mediterranean were thus raised 'globally' at the sixteenth-century tables of the salon of the sixteenth- and thirteenth-centuries in Palazzo Vecchio: what could never have happened previously, took place a 'meeting' between the principal parties of the conflict (Arabs and Israelis, Algerians and Frenchmen) had taken place. Mohammed V's insight was justified: Florence had become in a certain sense the centre of the historic and political hope (and also economic hope Mattei was present) of the peoples of the Mediterranean the debate about peace in the Mediterranean had in fact begun.

 

 

What were the results? Peace in Algeria had its roots specifically in that Colloquium (De Gaulle in a letter addressed to me personally had supported the Colloquium) and flowered a few years later at Evian (19 March 1962); a reduction in the tension between France and Tunisia was also achieved at the Colloquium; and the relations between France and Morocco also improved a great deal at the Colloquium. Arab-Israeli relations also experienced a certain brightening (but unfortunately without any follow up). In January 1960 when I went to pay him a visit Nasser said to me 'I will always send a representative of mine (i.e. Okacha) to the Mediterranean Colloquiums'. Such, then, was the structure of the first Colloquium.

 

 

The political repercussions of the Colloquium were vast and profound in all the continents of the world. The Press of the whole world followed with attention and also trepidation this first very conspicuous sign of peace in the Mediterranean and the world. Washington, Moscow, Paris and London were all affected, as well as the other capitals of Europe and of the world. After the first Colloquium others followed: the action of Florence did not grow weaker and others lined up. But then, with the very sad war in Vietnam came the fracture, at all levels, of the military, political and cultural equilibriums of the world, and this fracture drew to it another very sad war the Six Days' War.

 

 

But Florence was not discouraged she took up with greater energy her action of peace. We immediately met in Paris together with the Arab League and the Arab ambassadors (especially the ambassador of Tunisia, Masmudi, who at that time made himself the pilot of Arab action and had meetings with Fanfani), and took similar steps in relation to qualified and authoritative representatives of the Israeli world (especially Goldmann). And with the prospect of a new meeting in Florence we were invited by the two parties to visit both Jerusalem and Cairo.

 

 

And this visit, with passports with visas from the ambassadors of Israel and Egypt, took place during Christmas 1967 and Epiphany 1968. We saw politically qualified representatives of Israel (the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Abba Eban) and we met Nasser in Cairo. The conversation with Nasser was long and full of great cordiality and hope. Our thesis was the following: to begin starting with a solution to the problem of Suez global and effective negotiations! A new brightening of the skies seemed to have opened up, but then, unfortunately, new harmful military operations at the Suez Canal led this ray of hope to disappear and two weeks afterwards things went back to being as they had been before.

 

And in the meanwhile, with new political features, the Palestinian problem emerged. Florence did not fail to be present once again in an attempt to secure a suitable approach and possible solution to this problem while following the whole of its unfolding in all the painful events in which it expressed itself during those years.

 

 

The thesis of Florence was made clear and publicly announced in a speech given in Jerusalem the solution to the Palestinian problem could only be political in character. A possible Arab-Israeli dialogue could only now be triangular if it wanted to be really effective and problem solving, involving Israel, Palestine and the other Arab states. We also proposed this thesis in a letter sent to Arafat and we spoke about it in Florence to Dr. Waec (an intermediary of Arafat) as well a few weeks before his tragic end. This 'thesis of Florence' as regards a triangle appears increasingly valid with the passing of every day. Everybody in a certain way is convinced that Arab-Israeli negotiations and peace can be achieved through this triangle.

 

 

The hope of Florence is thus always alive. Florence and her theses remain for Arab-Israeli encounter an inextinguishable star of peace that shines on the horizon of the sky of the Mediterranean. The attention of the peoples of the Mediterranean always turns towards her with increased nostalgia (and this meeting in Cagliari and the meeting in Florence of last December bear this out).

 

 

But has this Florence experience been only empirical, a matter of facts, or has it been guided by a theoretical light, by a guiding idea, adopted as a work hypothesis?

 

The answer is in the positive yes. The foundation and guide of this action of Florence has been, and is, a 'work hypothesis', in whose worth we increasingly believe, which is organised into three parts which are intimately bound up with each other:

 

 

a) The first involves a scientific, technical and political judgement on this current apocalyptic age and the history of the world.

 

b) The second involves a general and universal teleology of history.

 

c) The third involves the specific teleology of the history of the Mediterranean, of the history, that is to say, of the peoples who belong to the family of their shared patriarch, Abraham.

 

 

As regards the first point, our judgement is the same as the one that the spiritual, cultural, scientific and political guides of the world have given, and has been renewed every day, over the last twenty-seven years that separate us from that sixth day of August when the first atomic bomb exploded and destroyed Hiroshima.

 

 

In a certain sense the atomic bomb brought history to its final stage. In 1961 Gunther Anders expressed this new situation in the history of the world in an exact way: 'on 6 August 1945, the day of Hiroshima, a new era began: an era when at any time we can transform any place, indeed the whole world, into another Hiroshima...Independently of its length or duration, this is the last epoch. This is because its specific difference, the possibility, that is to say, of self-destruction of mankind, can only end with itself'.

 

 

The very same thesis was expressed, in varying ways and almost without exception, by the most authoritative atomic scientists, analysts and 'thinkers': Einstein, Russell, Oppenheim, Pauling, Philbert, Kahn, Jaspers, J. Guitton and hundreds of others. The most recent study on the armaments race by George Hallgarten, which was published in 1971, ends in the following way: 'but if something goes wrong and the United States of America have a direct confrontation with the Soviet Union, or with a China after it has become a nuclear power, or with both, what will happen? The weapons will decide the outcome, and the day of judgement will be near. But in basic terms it is not weapons that will destroy us.

 

 

Weapons are blind, and such will they remain. In creating them mankind, like the sorcerer's apprentice, has evoked a powerful spectre that threatens it with death. But mankind is itself responsible for what it has done. It will be the fault of mankind if the world falls into this holocaust'.

 

 

Lacrjmosa dies illa

 

quo resurget ex favilla

 

judicandus homo reus

 

huic ergo parce, Deus!

 

 

The judgement of the leading political leaders of the 1960s was identical. Kennedy expressed it in his famous declaration to the United Nations of 25 August 1961 'either ten thousand years of peace or the earth will be reduced to embers'. Khrushchev said the same, as did Gandhi that very day of 6 August 1945 after the explosion of the atomic bomb. And this 'apocalypse view' directed the entire thought and action of John XXIII! Thus there was no discordance in relation to this apocalyptic assessment of the spiritual, scientific, cultural and political leaders of the world, and the same apocalyptic assessment is held today (after the sad bights of the historical river created by the anti-historical and anti-human war in Vietnam) not only by Paul VI ('no more war'; 'peace is possible and our duty') and by the most significant atomic scientists and analysts of recent years (most prominently Hallgarton) but also by the three most important political leaders of the world: Nixon, Breshnev and Chou en Lai. This, indeed, is the apocalyptic meaning of their contemporaneous statement made this year in Peking, Moscow and Washington 'there is no alternative to global negotiations'.

 

 

In truth, there is an alternative, but it is only the apocalyptic alternative of death (of mankind and the earth itself, and also, it appears of the cosmos): 'to be or not to be' (Gunther Anders); 'everything or nothing' (J. Guitton): 'either ten thousand years of peace or the earth will be reduced to embers' (Kennedy).

 

But we hope for, and believe (spes contra spem), that the choice will be in favour of global negotiation, and thus in favour of the 'millennium' of flowering to which the Apocalypse refers [XX, ss.].

 

 

And here we touch upon the second point of 'our work hypothesis' that involving the general and universal teleology (which is also theology!) of history.

 

What is it? Well we believe that there is a plan, a 'project' in history the plan of Providence 'which governs the world', as Dante declares [Paradise, XI]. This is a plan that history irreversibly implements and which cannot (in a certain sense) but be implemented in the world!

 

 

Universal history is directed by this 'project'. It can be compared to a river that despite its dramatic bights moves forward irreversibly under the impetus of a supernatural force of grace towards its mouth, towards the mouth of the unity of the peoples of the world (multi unum corpus sumus), of the eradication of war (as an instrument by which to resolve conflicts between states and peoples), of disarmament and the transformation of weapons into ploughs, of plans, that is to say, for development (to bring about justice in the world), and thus of fraternal and universal peace to be established within the one family of peoples. The river of history, therefore, moves towards its mouth of 'the prophetic utopia' of Isaiah [II, ss]. Paul VI stresses this point in his Populorum Progressio. This utopia of Isaiah is the authentic realism of history.

 

 

There is no alternative to this historical finalism, this teleology of universal history, other than that of the apocalyptic destruction not only of mankind but also of the planet and the cosmos! Isaiah saw this irreversible course of universal history in a lucid way, history, that is to say, bound up with Israel, Ishmael and the peoples of the whole of the earth directed towards the mouth of universal peace: 'he saw', 'he read', prophetically, the historical project of God unfold irreversibly despite everything (and obstructed at every step) towards this mouth. Recent studies have increasingly brought out this fundamental 'discovery', a discovery that specifies in such an original and overall way the entire prophetic thought and prophetic historiography of Isaiah [cf. Kaufmann, La Paix universale dans les Prophetics di Isaie, Jerusalem, 1968].

 

 

The whole of Biblical historiography (both the Old Testament and the New Testament) and also in a certain sense the historiography of the Koran are animated by this immense, invincible messianic hope. This is a hope that is rooted in Abraham (spes contra spem), that passes through the whole of the history of Israel and Ishmael, Moses and the Prophets, it lasts until Christ and is by the Risen Christ, through the Church, launched into the world in order to determine the goal of the history of all peoples until the end of time [St. Matthew; Apocalypse, XX, ss]:Unum sint (the Church and the peoples of the world; St. John); Unum ovile (St. John).

 

 

This immense, supernatural, invincible Biblical hope has notwithstanding everything and by defeating the terrible forms of resistance of the 'enemy' determined the purpose of almost two thousand years of Christian history. It is useless to remember here the 'utopian' historiographies that have passed through these two thousand years of Mediterranean, European and world history, from St. Paul and St. John to St. Ireneus, to Gioacchino da Fiore, St. Francis, Dante, Savonarola, Campanella, and Moro, and on to Fornari, Gratry, Theilard, Feret and in a certain sense Pius XII, John XXIII, the Vatican Council and Paul VI himself. It has thus come down the centuries from generation to generation to the threshold of this nuclear age which for the first time in history presents to mankind (to states and whole peoples) the final alternative every day either survive for a 'thousand years' [Apocalypse XX, ss] by crossing the new frontiers of Isaiah [II, ss] and establishing itself in unity, justice and peace, or perish by falling with the planet itself into the abyss without hope of a nuclear catastrophe!

 

 

And here is the 'second point' of our 'work hypothesis'. It is structurally bound up with the first, of which indeed it is the premise. This is because this very new 'final age' of history ('the nuclear age, the apocalyptic age') should be seen and interpreted in relation to the immense movement of hope that despite everything descends from God and inevitably and invincibly draws it towards the 'land of Isaiah', the history of the world!

 

 

It draws it towards that unity, justice and peace amongst all the peoples of the world of which the 'messianic kingdom' is constituted (the kingship of Christ) on earth: a 'kingdom' of grace, truth, justice and peace the 'kingdom' that Savonarola referred the Florentines to so that they would consecrate their Republic to Christ the King; an earthly 'kingdom' which is the final end of the process of civil maturation towards which history is inevitably launched.

 

 

'The spirit of God made the words of the Florentines prophetic when they declared that Christ was the King of their Republic; all the nations united together under his sceptre; matter dominated by the spirit of the human person and the material universe dominated by mankind. Such is the earthly paradise at which civilisation tends and from which it is religion's task to transfer it to the heavenly paradise, which is the eternal kingdom of Christ. Christian civilisation guides man until the earthly paradise, where our poet pretends that he accompanied the soul of Virgil after having him wander in purgatory' [Fornari, Vita di Cristo, II, chap. XVI].

 

 

This movement determining universal history that descends from God and 'carries peoples with it' towards the frontiers of Isaiah can be effectively portrayed if we think of the journey of the Wise Men towards Bethlehem. The mysterious star attracts them and guides them, and despite the obscurings that take place during this journey, united to the world they reach Jerusalem, go through it (thereby overcoming unpredicted new 'obscurings') and finally come to Bethlehem where they find Christ and offer to him in worship the gifts of incense, gold and myrrh (St. Matthew). The convergence of the peoples of the world towards 'the point' in which they colliguntur et veniunt.

 

 

I know the objections. A utopia? A fantasy? And yet it is not easy to free oneself of this 'work hypothesis' of ours with objections that are purely rational and Hegelian in character: the atomic, apocalyptic age in which we live increasingly proposes this work hypothesis to the point of authentic historical truth that real history that shows that the 'utopia' of yesterday was the inevitable history of yesterday and even more of tomorrow.

 

 

In any case, a doubt is becoming increasingly legitimate and large in size: and if this 'work hypothesis' was not at all 'fantastic', was not at all a mere hypothesis but had the same weight as a thesis based upon truth and facts? However, our work hypothesis at Florence was exactly this: war impossible; unity, peace and justice among all the peoples of the world inevitable, and the journey towards new frontiers, despite everything invincible and irreversible.

 

 

We could say with Chou en Lai interpreting his expression in a Biblical way that 'history, despite its flows and counter flows, moves undoubtedly and irreversibly not towards the shadows but towards the light' (as Chou en Lai said to Nixon in Peking last February). And in a certain sense we can interpret in Biblical terms also that 'messianic vision' of history (that of the classless city) that dominates the thought of Marx (Marx was a Jew and the Manifesto is not understandable without the Exodus) and the thought and action of Lenin.

 

 

And thus we come to the third point around which our work hypothesis is organised, that regarding the specific teleology of the history of the peoples of the Mediterranean. This is a history that in a certain sense, beginning with the vocation of Abraham, can be defined as the very complex, very divided, dramatic and contradictory history of the Abrahamite family. For this is certain: springing from the shared Abrahamite root, the tree of the triple monotheistic family (Jews, Christians, Muslims) became profoundly and solidly rooted amongst all the peoples of the Mediterranean and from them it to certain extent extended to all the peoples, all the civilisations, and all the continents of the world.

 

 

These Mediterranean peoples, therefore, have in a certain sense, even though it is full of lacerations and contrasts, a shared historical background, a shared spiritual, cultural and political destiny! Their 'unity' is essential and in some way is almost a premise for the unity of the entire family of peoples. In recent years research of high value has sought, and every day it does so even more, to achieve an accurate analysis of this 'shared background', this 'shared destiny', and this 'shared history' of the Abrahamite family that lives along the coasts of the Mediterranean. When in Florence we began our Mediterranean experience, the work hypothesis that we adopted to direct our action was the following: in the apocalyptic age (which inevitably unifies and pacifies the peoples of the whole of the earth) one of the fundamental unities that has to be reconstructed, specifically in the prospect of the unity of the whole of the human family is that of the peoples of the family of Abraham.

 

 

(We said) that the Providence of God aims at this 'unification'! The unity of the world, the spirituality of the world, the disarmament of the world, the peace of the world specifically in this apocalyptic age require (we declared) the grave lacerations of the family of Abraham to be eliminated; they require this unity to be made and the peoples of this so-defined family of Abraham to make peace Isaiah [XIX, 23] and the Koran [III, 2] and them to make themselves, together, the executors of the great spiritual, cultural and political mandate that history Providence! assigns to them for the planetary construction of the 'new home' of the peoples of the world!

 

 

Which mandate? To raise the light of God over the world and specifically in the new technological, atomic and apocalyptic age. This is what Nasser wrote in a letter of 22 February 1958 (a letter preceded, beginning in 1956, and followed until the death of Nasser, by a very large number of letters that restated the same idea). The 'vertical values' of God of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob specifically in this 'materialistic', technological and desecrating age, will inevitably blossom once again: they will constitute the inevitable splendour and the inevitable countenance and crown of the edifice of the new civilisation of the world.

 

 

This is the specific mandate together with that of liberation from every form of social slavery that Providence assigns today in a specific way to the Mediterranean peoples of the family of Abraham (to raise the light of God over the world. We proposed this work hypothesis of ours to Mohammed V, to Nasser, to Bourghiba, to the Algerian leadership (of the FLN); we proposed it to the most qualified Muslim cultural and spiritual leaders; we proposed it to Ben Gurion and to Buber (and to the most qualified Israeli political and cultural leaders); we proposed it to De Gaulle and to Mendes in France; we proposed it to Fanfani and Mattei; we proposed it to the most qualified cultural and journalistic circles in France; and we proposed it to the Patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagora, and to the Holy See (from the time of Pius XII).

 

 

At this point the inevitable question poses itself: despite everything, is the experience of Florence still valid today? Does the work hypothesis that has inspired and guided it remain valid? Is the convergence and the unity of the Abrahamite family of the peoples of the Mediterranean still necessary for the unity of the world?

 

 

The answer seems to me completely clear. Despite everything, this validity continues to exist: the hypothesis of Florence increasingly appears to be a hypothesis without an alternative. And indeed, if the 'three points' in which our work hypothesis are valid, that is to say

 

 

1) the inevitability in the atomic age of a political and peaceful solution to the problems of the world;

 

 

2) unity, justice and peace as the inevitable mouth of the river of history;

 

 

3) the inevitable convergence and unity of the Mediterranean peoples of the Abrahamite family because of the shared spiritual and historical mandate that has been assigned to them by history (Providence!) for the construction of the 'new planetary home' of the world, then the consequence can be no other than the following: yes, that experience and that hypothesis are, despite everything, still valid, indeed they are more valid today than was the case yesterday!

 

 

So what should be done? There is nothing else to be done than to take again, so to speak, the road of Florence, the road, that is to say, of convergence, of encounter, that the Prophet Isaiah pointed out with so much prophetic precision: 'In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, Blessed is Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage' [XIX, 23-25]. The road that the Koran [III, 64] points out when it declares: 'O people of the Book! Come to a fair agreement between us and you and do not a ssociate with Him anything, do not choose amongst us a master who is not God'.

 

 

Allow me to end with a 'dream' (a 'dream' for that matter that has no alternative); 'dreaming', that is to say, that negotiations and unity, justice and peace amongst the triple Abrahamite family will be achieved; that there will be achieved, that is to say, the 'unifying' dream of Abraham ('in you all the nations of the earth will be blessed'); dreaming, that is to say, that the 'utopia' of Abraham will become the real history of the peoples of the family of Abraham and the peoples of the entire family of the peoples of the world.

 

What would then be seen? Behold, one would see the Holy Land, the land of the Patriarchs, the land of Israel and Ishmael, the land of Christ, of Mary and of the Apostles, the land of the Church and the saints, become visibly the land of attraction, the centre of attraction for the world (tra hir per praevalentiam).

 

 

And one would see Jerusalem become, as its own name says and as its very supernatural and historical destiny has it, the capital not only of an individual nation but of all the nations; the city of universal peace; the city of universal worship (venite ascendamus); the city towards which one would see rise 'on a pilgrimage to worship' not only the peoples of the Abrahamite family but equally the peoples of the whole of the human family: 'By its light shall the nations walk; and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it' [Apocalypse, XXI: 24].

 

 

See now, from the economic, technological, social, and political point of view, the effects of this 'realised dream'. What, to limit oneself to this one area, would be the mass of economic 'investments' that this flow of peoples would allow? What social, cultural, spiritual and political effects would this flow of intelligences and hard working wills produce? And if we move on to Egypt and think of Cairo? Would it not really become the key that opens the door to access to all the oceans and all the continents of the world? And the Nile?

 

From 1957 onwards I pointed out these prospects, which seem utopian but in reality are not, to Hussein, Nasser, Muhammad V and Ben Gurion. Mediterranean peace will really become a mysterious and divine 'philosopher's stone' that transforms what it touches into gold. And a great civilisation the new civilisation of the world would have here in the Holy Land and in the Mediterranean its foundation and its great point of genesis.

 

 

Is this a dream? It is, but this apocalyptic age in which we live and in which we increasingly immerse ourselves is indeed 'the age of dreams' (imagination in power), the age of utopia: the age in which utopia will become history; a dream will become reality!

 

 

Allow me, therefore, to finish with this dream! Allow me to see in this light the ultimate aim of this Mediterranean conference held in Cagliari, a conference that takes up the thesis of Florence and makes it flower again, the 'dream of Abraham', the hope of Abraham; a conference that announces almost prophetically in 1973 the dawn of a new historical utopia of grace and of peace for the Holy Land, for Jerusalem, for the whole of the Mediterranean, for the peoples of Abraham and for the peoples (beginning with the people of Vietnam) of the whole world! Spes contra spem!

 

 

January 1973

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