ON MONDAY December 21 at the City Hall, His Worship the Mayor, Adolfo J Canepa OBE GMH MP, received the Bethlehem Light of Peace on behalf of the people of Gibraltar. The Light was presented by the Scouts’ Association (Gibraltar Branch) as has now become traditional, following its collection this year from the Movimiento Scouts Catolicos, Delegacion de Jerez de la Frontera.
Scouts and guides have then taken the light on to other churches and places of public or cultural importance – indeed, to anybody that appreciates the significance of the “gift”. The aim of the campaign is to include as many people as possible and to take to them the light and peace message, which encourages everyone, but especially scouts and guides, to actively create peace in their environment by being tolerant towards people of different ethnic, cultural, political or religious groups.
Now in its 28th year, the Peace Light from Bethlehem campaign was originally organised by the Austrian Broadcasting Company – ORF (Linz) – and was part of a large charitable relief mission – Light into Darkness, for children in need in Austria and abroad. Since 1986, there has been a great deal of co-operation between Scouts and Guides in many countries which has allowed the light to travel throughout Europe, such that the light is passed onto 23 European countries and for the past few years onto North America, Mexico and Canada.
Each year, a child from Upper Austria kindles a flame from the “Eternal Flame” from the Nativity Grotto in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. The light is then flown to Austria from where it is distributed at a Service of Dedication to delegations from across Europe who take it back, with a message of Peace, to their own countries for use at ecumenical services throughout the continent.