3rd September, 2012
STEFAN J BOS
More than 12,000 youngsters from some 100 nations have concluded Central and Eastern Europe's first-ever 'Genfest', a youth summit, with a call for a more united and peaceful world.
After three days of exchanging ideas on how to realise that utopia, they prayed and listened in front of Budapest's Saint Stephen's Basilica, one of Hungary's largest Roman Catholic Church buildings.
Pope Benedict XVI reminded participants that Budapest was the perfect place to discuss (the) theme (of Let's Bridge) with Budapest's bridges across the Danube, linking the former settlements of Buda and Pest, all but destroyed in World War II..."The bridges across the Danube were rebuilt, and the international community set itself the goal of eliminating once and for all the conditions that might lead to future conflict."
During the open air Mass they were encouraged not to give up their hope and dreams
The Vatican's ambassador to Hungary, the Apostolic Nuncio Alberto Bottari de Castello reminded participants of this year's Genfest theme: 'Let's Bridge'.
He said, "Christ is the true bridge between people and God," and that "the Lord wants us to carry" out that message as "bridges of love towards all people."
Earlier Pope Benedict XVI reminded participants that Budapest was the perfect place to discuss that theme with Budapest's bridges across the Danube, linking the former settlements of Buda and Pest, all but destroyed in World War II. "Yet out of the ashes of that terrible conflict, there arose a determination to build peace on lasting foundations, a determination which was to be the inspiration behind the founding of the Focolare Movement."
He added that, "The bridges across the Danube were rebuilt, and the international community set itself the goal of eliminating once and for all the conditions that might lead to future conflict."
In his letter, addressed to Genfest's chief organiser Maria Voce, president of the Catholic-leaning Focolare Movement, the pontiff said that following the Cold War, in which Hungary and other Eastern European nations "suffered under the oppression of totalitarian regimes", Budapest had changed.
"May this beautiful city be a sign of hope" he wrote, and inspire young people to offer the hand of friendship to those from other backgrounds and cultures, “in such a way as to shape the earthly city in unity and peace, rendering it to some degree an anticipation and prefiguration of the undivided city of God”.
Hungarian cardinal Peter Erdo told youngsters on Sunday, however, that bridge building is only possible if "one culture does not eliminate the other".
Sunday's mass came after thousands of youngsters gathered in Budapest's main sport arena earlier in the weekend where they watched a video tribute to the late Chiara Lubich founder of the Focolare Movement and the Genfest.
Youngsters were reminder to what she told the United Nations before she passed away in 2008.
"Certainly they were always be world until there is a new spirit. Because people find all kinds of excuses to start wars. We need to change the soul, we need a spiritual boost," she said.
"Nowadays there many discoveries (and) many innovations (such as modern) communications and media. (So) technology progresses. But what has not progressed in this world is the spiritual aspects. We need a spiritual boost, a supplement of love in the world. This is much we must do."
During her 88-years-long life, she also spoke often about the next generations who will have to carry her torch.
Among them 20-something Mexican Willie Davila who lost his cousin in Mexico's drug and gang war that has killed thousands. He is now involved in peace building with other youngsters.
"It was obvious that revenge could not put things right," he told the audience that packed the László Pap Sports Arena in Budapest. "At that time (after the killing) I realised that I had two paths that I could choose from: The first that I started to hate; the second to continue to love," Davila said.
It is that message that the Genfest youngers hope to spread throughout the world after their gathering ends in Budapest, where they already held a massive peace rally and 'flashmob', a sudden event on and near the famous Chain Bridge to call attention to their dreams.
The Genfest also saw the launching of the United World Project, which they called "a quiet revolution" to one day see a different world. Initiatives also include the "Skip a Meal' project to raise awareness about the famine in the Horn of Africa,
The 10th Genfest saw young people from 104 countries with most of the 8,500 youngsters coming from Europe.
At the start of the 31st August-2nd September Genfest, youth and religious representatives also met government officials, including Hungary's Minister of Foreign Affairs Jànos Martonyi who said that though, “the challenges are global", the answers "are universal, linked to universal values."
"We noticed the culture of suspicion and hatred at all levels. It is necessary to answer with the culture of love."
The 10th Genfest saw young people from 104 countries with most of the 8,500 youngsters coming from Europe, including 3,700 from Eastern Europe, organisers said. About 850 participants represented Asia, 1,300 came from the Americas, 250 from the Middle East, 100 from Africa and a small group from Oceania, according to the Genfest organisation.
Two thirds were Christians from different churches, the rest represented other religions and cultures.
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