It’s called a “pilgrimage” because participants do a lot of walking. Several thousand young people representing different faiths and cultures have come to the southernmost tip of Africa from as far afield as Madagascar, Uganda, Tanzania, and the Ivory Coast.
It’s called a pilgrimage of “trust” because it challenges those young people, with their different origins, denominations and social backgrounds, to experience diversity and community – all at the same time.
The Taizé Community
It’s organized by Taizé because that is what the France-based Community does: it brings together small groups and individuals and gives them the opportunity to meet, work, and pray with all kinds of people – in the places where they live.
Previous such gatherings in Zagreb, Sarajevo, Cochabamba and Nairobi, saw complete strangers open their homes and offer hospitality to young people from countries that were at war with them until recently.
Breaking down barriers
It’s that kind of simple encounter that breaks down barriers, preconceptions, prejudice, fear and resentment.
Much of that fear and resentment was behind the xenophobic violence of the past weeks in South Africa, a violence that is eroding the trust that often held communities together.
Which is why, in the current South African context, any invitation to cross barriers in order to welcome and enrich one another, to experience solidarity, to worship the same God, and to share hope, is extremely powerful.
An invitation to hope
The invitation to the event promises it will be much more than just a pilgrimage of trust: “An ecumenical and international meeting like this one, to which all the communities of the “Rainbow Nation” are invited, and also asked to host”, it reads, “is a real fresh opportunity for their region… A contribution to celebrating and supporting the hope which South Africa already embodies”.