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20th inter-religious meeting of prayer for peace

14/09/2006: Italy

The 20th edition of the meetings People and religions, organised by the San Egidio community, marked the anniversary of the historical summit meeting of Pope John Paul II in Assisi in 1986.
On the 4th and 5th September, representatives of the different religious of the world converged on Assisi for the 20th anniversary of the inter-religious meeting which had been convoked by Pope John Paul II to pray for peace. The meeting was organised by the Community of San Egidio which works untiringly throughout the whole world to spread the spirit of Assisi.

“Peace is a good that we cannot renounce, even if waiting for it seems difficult or hopeless. We want to help each government leader, man or woman, to brush aside pessimism in order to discover that hope is close if we know how to live the art of dialogue. Religions help believers to live out the great values that some deem difficult to put into practice. We cannot give up on seeking peace by all means. Such is the hope that we are proposing to you today, from this hill of Assisi, by asking the faithful of our communities to pray and act for peace.”

Pope Benedict XVI, in a message addressed to the participants, recalled that twenty years ago on the 27th October 1986, when the Servant of God Pope John Paul II promoted the first meeting on this spot “this dream of peace was a moment of general hope for peace, and he led several to dream of a different world (…) But that was not realised. The third millennium started with acts of terrorism and of violence which have not dissipated.”

John Paul II’s invitation to the representatives of the world religions “to give together a testimony to peace served to clarify unequivocally that religion can only be a source of peace (…) No one has the right to invoke religious difference as a motive or pretext to adopt a belligerent attitude towards other human beings.”

The Holy Father affirmed that the meeting of 1986 “can opportunely put the accent on the value of prayer in building peace (…) Peace is built firstly in hearts (…) The heart of all mankind is the place of divine interventions.”

John Paul II was unceasingly remembered during this meeting and it was with an unbelievable unanimity that superlatives were addressed to “this illustrious man of God” (Blaise Compaoré, president du Burkina Faso), to this “good shepherd” (Jürgen Johannesdotter, German Lutheran bishop), “so mourned” (Ahmed al-Tayyeb, Rector of the Al-Azhar du Caire University), and in particular by the Jewish people for whom he was “an exceptional Pope)” (Grand rabbi René-Samuel Sirat) or as the Rumainian metropolitan Serafim said, John Paul II was a “saintly man”. If these men pay him this homage, it is because they know it is thanks to him that they are together today.

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