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Christmas is a time for Peace: initiatives in Italy and Europe

There are many Peace initiatives that are flourishing throughout Italy and also in Europe, like small lights of hope, at this end of 2022.

A path that links the mobilisations of numerous organisations, with the aim of building a concrete prospect of Peace in the year that is beginning. This action takes its cue from the ‘Christmas is Time for Peace’ proposal launched by the Europe For Peace coalition, in continuity with the great national demonstration for Peace on the 5th of November.

“In Ukraine, in Europe and in the world – from 24 December 2022 to 7 January 2023 – we call on all European citizens to mobilise for peace, from Catholic and Protestant Christmas to Orthodox Christmas,” reads the call text, which continues: “For a ceasefire and for negotiations. We call for the convening of a peace conference to build shared security in Europe. Solidarity with the Ukrainian people and the victims of all wars and repression and discrimination’. The central point that characterises the initiatives of this period is therefore clear: peace is the victory we need!

Among the main initiatives in the coming days is the traditional Pax Christi end-of-year conference, dedicated to conscientious objection to the military, in connection with the 55th Peace March (also promoted by CEI, Azione Cattolica, Caritas and the Focolare Movement) and Pope Francis’ message: “No one can save himself. Starting again from Covid-19 to trace paths of peace together’.

On the last day of the year in Turin, Piazza Carignano will host, starting at 11 a.m., the 44th “Presidio for Peace” promoted by the Agite, while as every year on 1 January the Peace and Welcoming March will be held in Bologna, promoted by the Portico della Pace with the adhesion of many associations and trade union organisations. The initiative will be opened by the Cardinal of Bologna and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Mons. Matteo Zuppi, and concluded by the General Secretary of the CGIL, Maurizio Landini.

On the occasion of the 56th World Day of Peace, the Community of Sant’Egidio invites people to remember the countries and regions of the world where there are ongoing conflicts and widespread violence, such as right now, in addition to Ukraine, many areas of Africa, from the Sahel to northern Mozambique. In Rome, the meeting is at 11 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square to join Pope Francis’ Angelus, but marches and prayer vigils for peace will be held in several Italian cities (Milan, Genoa, Palermo, Naples, Parma…) and in other European countries (Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Poland,…).

The list of scheduled events (attached) is constantly being updated thanks to the work of local groups, which will certainly continue beyond the period of this specific mobilisation, ideally to be concluded on 7 January in Verona (at the Gran Guardia) with a dialogue between Mayor Damiano Tommasi, Bishop Mons. Domenico Pompili, CGIL General Secretary Maurizio Landini and the Founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio Andrea Riccardi.

Also active in the period from 25 December 2022 to 7 January 2023 is the proposal “A candle to stop war”, launched on the same days by the Globalisation and Environment Commission of the Federation of Evangelical Churches and CIPAX (Interfaith Centre for Peace). Anyone wishing to participate is asked to light a candle every day and place it in the window to testify to the desire to initiate diplomatic paths, also from below, leading to peace.