According to Andrea Bartoli, the Sant’Egidio Foundation for Peace and Dialogue practices peacebuilding, or the practice of resolving injustice through nonviolent approaches.
“Sant’Egidio is simply a recent expression of something that the Catholic Church has done for millennia—it’s not something new,” Bartoli, president of the Sant’Egidio, said. “It’s not something that is done just by us, but actually what we believe is everybody’s calling.”
Co-sponsored by the Boston College School of Social Work, the Office of Global Engagement, Catholic studies program, and international studies program, the Church in the 21st Century Center hosted a discussion Thursday night about Catholic peacebuilding in an increasingly fractured world.
According to Bartoli, Sant’Egidio—a global Christian movement of volunteer communities active in over 70 countries—aims to utilize peacebuilding to resolve global conflicts.
“It’s important for me to locate this peace-making Sant’Egidio engages with,” he said. “With this idea that, from the Christian perspective, this is truly life, and that Jesus on the cross is in peace, is at peace, and is for peace.”
Bartoli said the first step in achieving global peace is to acknowledge a sense of shared responsibility for the stability of other communities.
“We need to realize that, first of all, peace is co-created and is co-created through acceptance,” Bartoli said. “That is the first step that makes peace relevant, is the fact that you and I are present together.”
During the discussion following the lecture, Rev. Mark Shimave, S.J., a graduate student of theology at BC, asked Bartoli if Sant’Egidio approaches countries when they notice conflict, or if it waits until receiving an invitation to intervene as peacemakers.
“We only work on invitation,” Bartoli said. “We are only invited to play the role of peacemakers. But you also need to be aware that Sant’Egidio is attentively present in more than 70 countries, so we have local people in 70 countries, serving the poor, praying everyday, and trying to befriend.”
According to Bartoli, Christian values guide members of Sant’Egidio as they hope to find fulfillment by serving others.
“The paradox of Christian life is that we receive peace in a way that is, first of all, calling us and doesn’t assume us as the doers, but rather assumes us as the followers, as the disciples, as the one that find themselves fulfilled in this vocation, in this way of being, in this becoming, that Jesus reveals in a love that is otherwise difficult for us to understand,” Bartoli said
Bartoli said Sant’Egidio aims to follow and listen to countries in need, paying attention to whatever nations will need to gain peace.
“We see ourselves as simply helping parties co-create the peace that is trying to be revealed,” Bartoli said. “We are simply helpers in this effort to make sure that something that is possible becomes probable, something that is probable becomes real, shared, seen, understood.”