Reconciliation is a subject whose roots are to be found in our recent past in the mass genocides and exterminations of the 20th century, but also in the present day which is no less anguished and in need of renewing bonds and of rebuilding hopes.
There has been much work done on reconciliation, which is something more than peace-making, since it is the re-elaboration of it at a higher level and includes memory and justice, and this work is continuing at all levels: in Yad Vashem as in Rwanda, in Ireland as in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Furthermore it is a topic which directly involves women. Indeed reconciliation is an aspect of care, one of the most important and meaningful maternal functions; creating peace and forgiveness, making possible hope in the future.
In this issue we deal with a few instances of reconciliation: the project “For reconciliation, restoration and healing”, created in Ireland by a woman, the Presbyterian Minister Patterson; the project for reconciliation and education in Rwanda, animated by another woman, Yolande Mukagasana, a lay woman and a Tutsi who survived the genocide; and lastly the creation of relations of affection and trust among the different religions seen through the experience of a school of Salesian Sisters in Jerusalem, attended largely by Muslim children.
These examples, in which we have endeavoured to portray different aspects of a possible model of reconciliation, are surrounded by an infinity of other cases, of the past as of the present, to which our texts can only make reference. And it is women who have played and play a crucial role in all of them. We may learn an important lesson from these women: the renunciation of hatred is fundamental, but, if it is to become collective and to touch the hearts of peoples and not only those of individuals, it must be accompanied by the request for justice, for recognition, for education and for knowledge, and lastly for love. (anna foa)
St. Peter’s Square
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