According to the organisers, approximately ten thousand people took part in yesterday’s extraordinary Peace and Fraternity March from Perugia to Assisi. Banners bearing the words “For peace, with care – Transform the future! – Let us work together for a more humane world” were shouted out and carried throughout the 25-kilometre march from Perugia to Assisi. The spotlight of this year’s event was on the young generations. It was a ‘youth march’, as Flavio Lotti, coordinator of the PerugiAssisi organising committee, aptly described it.
“It was the third Perugi-Assisi march since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a special, extraordinary day, devoted to the leading role of the young generations, of so many boys and girls, adolescents and young adults who, spanning the generations from childhood to university, converged on the road from Perugia to Assisi to give voice to peace and to their own wish to change the future,” Lotti said. “From Assisi, we join Pope Francis in renewing our commitment to build a great educational compact that will contribute to the development of a new generation of architects, of artisans, of peace-builders. This is what the world, and us all, truly need.”
A total of 119 Italian schools and 71 universities supported the event as members of the peace network. The march was also attended by the representatives of 280 associations and of 150 local entities from throughout Italy.
Upon arrival on the square opposite the Sacred Convent of St. Francis in Assisi adjacent to the basilicas, the procession was welcomed by a message sent by Pope Francis, with a foreword by the bishop of the diocese of Assisi, Msgr. Domenico Sorrentino.
The Holy Father renewed his “heartfelt appreciation to all those who want to build bridges of hope, dialogue and reconciliation, thus building a more humane and fraternal world for the next generations.” The Pope thus recalled the “exemplary witness of Francis of Assisi at this specific time marked by tragic conflicts”, that it may become for everyone “a compelling call to not hesitate and become instruments of peace all over the world.”
The deans of the Italian Network of Universities of Peace, the headmasters of the National Peace Schools Network and the mayors of the National Coordination of Local Entities for Peace and Human Rights all signed the ‘Assisi Compact’ in the Franciscan city. Panel speakers at the Rocca Maggiore castle, the final destination of the march, included, inter alia, Gianfranco Pagliarulo, president of the National Partisans’ Association of Italy. He highlighted the values of the Constitution, marking its 75th anniversary this year, for the youngest members of the population. “We want to embody a dream, this is what we want today at a tragic time that involves Italy, Europe and the world since the post-war period”, he said. “We see the fiery wind of weapons, bombs, destruction and massacres blowing as never before. Pope Francis is absolutely right when he speaks of a third world war fought piecemeal. We are witnessing a massive rearmament today: as it happened in the build-up to the two World Wars.
And the war in not only in Ukraine:
Armed conflicts are ongoing in Gaza and in the Occupied Territories, in Sudan, Syria, Libya, Myanmar, in the Kurdish territories and in many other places near and far. Cardinal Zuppi wrote: we need artisans and architects of fraternity and peace. Here and now this is what we are, to ensure that the Constitution is fully implemented.”