The Meeting toward man’s need for change and recovery

Press Meeting

The XXXI Meeting for Friendship amongst People concluded as a tangible sign and proof of the challenge the Holy Father launched: “Witness to our time that the great things the human heart desires are found in God.”

The title “That nature which pushes us to desire great things is the Heart” has become for all an hypothesis for comparison from every point of view: hypothesis for the 3,139 volunteers coming from all over Italy and from over 20 foreign countries, who even this year, like in the least 30 years, have offered their labor for the construction of a work in which the ideal has become incarnate; an hypothesis of gaze for the nearly 800,000 people from 29 countries present at the event who were confronted with over 130 meetings, 8 exhibits, 35 shows.

There were many guests of every faith, culture, origin; it was surprising to see how for everyone the theme of the Meeting was the prevalent topic of their interventions; we have not listened to abstract theories, but to a real reading of our existence in the light of the title.

The great personal witness of President McAleese of Ireland, the confrontation of minister Frattini with leaders of countries in which religious freedom is regularly limited, the presence of president Barroso, the most representative figure in the European Union, have underlined the international vocation of the Meeting.

In the course of the Riminese week man and his desire for the infinite have been discussed: Christianity, as Stefano Alberto said in his talk, is one answer “as impossible to imagine before the historical event happened as it is supremely convenient in its free and totally gratuitous manifestation,” and one that responds to the challenges of modernity because, as the intervention of Cardinal Scola recites, “the integral (whole) desire of man, that is his heart, encounters full satisfaction.” Another great event was the embrace between Cardinal Erdö and the Metropolitan Filaret, perhaps one of the most important ecumenical encounters of the last years. As it typically happens at the Meeting, different men and cultures meet: the presentation of the Father Giussani’s “Religious Sense” in Chinese, the encounter between the Buddhist monk Habukawa, Cardinal Tauran, and Imam Oubrou, the dialogue between the Jewish jurist Weiler and Giuliano Amato, have all been moments during which it has been discovered how the heart of man is the starting point for the beginning of dialogue and how religion can be an instrument of peace and not of violence.

The exhibits (four of which were created abroad), visited by thousands and thousands of people, have had, as always, a fundamental role in documenting the desire for great things; among these, was the exhibit on the economic crisis, a theme many have discussed: Bonanni, Passera, Geronzi, Marcegaglia, Gotti Tedeschi, De Bortoli, Marchionne. Many of the protagonists of the economic world have demonstrated a sincere curiosity for what happens at the Meeting, for the experience from which it generates and that sustains it as it was documented in the central area of the fiera dedicated to the figure of Father Giussani on the fifth of anniversary of his death.

As in the past, this year’s encounters with personal “witnesses” have been well attended: Rose and her boys, the Coletta widow and Maria Teresa Landi, Mireille Yoga from Camerun and Fiammetta from Haiti, Father Monacelli and the American Indian David Frank, have told how no power, no circumstances can stop the desire of each man, whose infinite nature, characteristic of the man of each time, has taken the stage of the Meeting with the Caligula by Camus performed by Stefano Pesce and with the reading of Leopardi’s poems by Giancarlo Giannini. Among other guests were Archbishop Martin, journalists McGurn and Pansa, scientists Moro, Nelson and Ferrari, and the jurors Snead and Kretzmer.

Finally, there was politics with Sacconi, Tremonti, Alfano, Matteoli, Carfagna, Calderoli, Maroni, Galan, Luciano Violante. These are not foreigners to the reality of the Meeting: ministers and politicians have faced people’s long waits and questions, speaking of themes and the challenges of the near future, leaving behind the squabbles typical of a talk show. Many were the personalities of the ecclesial, political, economic, and cultural world that have arrived as visitors and have lived the Meeting, visited the exhibits, attended the shows, took part in the meetings, and observed everything that happened.

The Meeting was a success because it has encountered the need to rediscover a positive gaze toward reality and was a proposal to the need for change and reprise of the social life; it was the occasion to verify that, starting from a firm point that revives the human, there are people and realities of men who put man in the condition of facing the storms of life with certainty, without being at the mercy of circumstances.

For this reason, the title of the 2011 Meeting that will take place from August 21 to August 27 will be “And existence becomes an immense certainty.”