Pope, World Council of Churches head speak on fall of Berlin Wall

(Photo: REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch)Balloons which were part of the installation 'Lichtgrenze' (Border of Light) are released in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, November 9, 2014. A part of the inner city of Berlin is being temporarily divided from November 7 to 9, with a light installation featuring 8000 luminous white balloons, following the 9.5-mile (15.3 kmilometre) path the Berlin Wall once occupied, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall.

Pope Francis on Sunday recalled the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago, citing the role played by Saint John Paul II, saying the world needs bridges not walls.

"Where there is a wall, there is closure of the heart. We need bridges, not walls," he said.

At the same time the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit said, "A quarter century later, we need a new movement that takes its roots in the cross, a symbol of God's peace and God's justice that we hold in common."

Francis spoke his words Sunday from the window of the Papal studio above St Peter's Square where he recalled the Fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9th 1989 when ordinary citizens began chipping away the barrier dividing Germany.

The Pope described the once 160 kiloemter (100 mile) wall as a symbol of the ideological division of Europe and the world which for so long had cut the city of Berlin in two.

"The fall happened suddenly, but it was made possible by the long and arduous efforts of many people who had fought for this, prayed and suffered, some even sacrificing their lives.

"These include a leading role played by Saint Pope John Paul II," Francis said referring to the Polish-born pope at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Pope then prayed that, with God's help, all men and women of good will would continue to spread a culture of encounter, with the aim of bringing down all the walls that still divide the world, Vatican Radio reported.

He also prayed that there would be no more killing and persecution of the innocent and of those killed because of religious beliefs.

Tveit issued his message Sunday sent to the Chairperson of the EKD (the umbrella for German Protestant and Lutheran churches), Rev. Nikolaus Schneider.

"It was a fitting choice and a clear signal that you have selected Dresden's Kreuzkirche as the venue for the opening worship service of your Synod, a service commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago.

"It was in the Kreuzkirche that, during the months, weeks and days that preceded the fall of the Berlin Wall, prayers for peace had been conducted.

"It was also in the Kreuzkirche, in 1988, that the ecumenical assembly of the conciliar process for 'Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation' took place.

"That assembly gave forceful impetus to the peaceful revolution. It inspired the many people who went into the streets and demonstrated."

Television commentators Sunday noted the no person was called during the period of the collapse of the wall.

Tveit noted that the Berlin did not fall all by itself but due to a movement of many people who demonstrated peacefully in the streets.

"Along with political players, they were convinced that just peace is possible.

"In this way, they transformed the Cold War and the rivalry among superpowers in Europe into the vision of a continent founded on reconciliation and peace, and on sharing a sustainable economic and social development."

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