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COMECE Plenary: centenary of the Great War. Mgr. Kockerols (Brussels), “peace means not being indifferent”

(from our correspondent in Ypres) – “Peace is a commitment, a mission, a desire. Peace means never being indifferent. Peace calls on us to combat indifference, to never say ‘this does not concern me, I am not interested in: what my neighbour is going through, what happens in another country, or another continent, near or far…’”. Mgr. Jean Kockerols, Auxiliary Bishop of Brussels, made this appeal today from St Martin’s Cathedral in Ypres, Flanders, which was completely destroyed during the First World War. Concelebrating with him were the Bishops of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), who are holding their autumn plenary assembly in Brussels from today until Friday. A pilgrimage to Ypres, the site of two of the bloodiest battles of the First World War (1914-1918), whose centenary is celebrated this year, actually marked the opening of the Plenary. “One hundred years ago, there was nothing left here. Everything was completely destroyed. There were tens of thousands of dead, including many young people – the Belgian prelate recalled in his homily -, people spoke of a Great War. No one dared to imagine something worse than this. People believed that that war would be the last. But 20 years later, another one broke out. There have never been so many wars in the entire history of humanity as in the past 100 years”. But peace, Mgr. Kockerols said, “is not just the absence of war”, it has something to do also with division: “When you see Korea has been divided into two parts for more than 60 years, then you cannot speak of peace”. Hence, an appeal not to be indifferent, addressed to the many young students from Ypres in the cathedral: “Combating indifference means learning to recognize others, to respect them, to appreciate and love them. When you love, there is room for forgiveness and reconciliation. It is Jesus Christ who shows us the way: He revealed to us a God who wants to know, respect, and love our humanity – a God who wants to forgive and reconcile, who strives for peace. Peace is a gift from God. When we strive for peace, when we pray together, then we are stronger. Thank you, dear young people of Ypres, for helping us. Let us work and pray together for peace”.

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