Assisi III 2011 : Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace

The World Day of Prayer for Peace, due to take place in Assisi this Thursday, October 27th is titled "Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace." 

It is the 25th anniversary of the 1996 meeting with the world’s religious leaders in Assisi and convoked by Pope John Paul II.

See my previous post on this here and here and a personal reflection here from Franciscan priest Greg Friedman, who was in Assisi in 1994.

It will be a day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world.
Unlike previous Assisi events, which drew criticism from some, there will be no praying together in public but rather time for individual prayer and silent mediation during a joint pilgrimage to the tomb of St Francis. 

It will see for the first time non-believers joining more than 175 religious leaders from 50 nations around the world at Assisi. (Read more on this aspect from Gianfranco Ravasi, Cardinal President of the Pontifical Council for Culture here)

According to Mgr Melchor de Tocay y Alameda, under-secretary for the Pontifical Council for Culture, this is because of the Holy Father’s conviction that “men and women, both believers and non-believers, are always searching for God, for the Absolute and that they are therefore all pilgrims travelling towards the fullness of truth”.

Pilgrim T shirt from here

Pope Benedict, in a letter to a Lutheran minister, has made clear his own view of the World Day of Prayer for Peace, writing:“I will… do everything in order that a syncretistic or relativistic interpretation of the event will be impossible and so that what will remain is that I will always believe and confess that which I called to the attention of the Church with Dominus Jesus , the declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2000 that the Catholic Church is the sole and true Church founded by Christ.”

Pope Benedict XVI will travel by train to the city of St Francis alongside Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Zoroastrians, Taoists, representatives of indigenous religions and leaders of other Christian Churches and communities, such as the head of the worldwide Anglican communion, Archbishop Rowan Williams, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew 1st and the head of the World Council of Churches, Rev Olav Fykse Tveit.

According to Cardinal Peter Turkson, (left), president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Pope wants the idea of a “pilgrimage” to be emphasised, as it implies “asceticism, purification, convergence towards a more exalted place and taking on a community responsibility”.

In an address on Oct. 21, 2007, Benedict XVI said “we are all called to work for peace and to a concrete commitment to promote reconciliation between peoples.
This is the authentic ‘spirit of Assisi,’ which is opposed to every form of violence and the abuse of religion as a pretext for violence.

In the face of a world lacerated by conflicts, where at times violence is justified in the name of God, it is important to reaffirm that religions can never be vehicles of hatred; never, invoking the name of God, can evil and violence be justified.

Religions can and must offer precious resources to build a peaceful humanity, because they speak of peace to the heart of man.”

Pilgrim statue overlooks the Basilica in Assisi

In a press conference last week The Holy See Office said :

By calling this Day in Assisi, Benedict XVI wishes to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the historic meeting organised there by John Paul II in 1986. "The world today, as it did twenty-five years ago, needs peace", said Cardinal Turkson. 
"Following two and a half decades of collaboration and joint witness among religions, it is time to assess the results and to relaunch our commitment in the face of new 
challenges", he explained. 
Those challenges include "the financial and economic crisis which is lasting longer than expected, the crisis in democratic and social institutions, food and environmental problems, biblical-scale migrations, indirect forms of neo-colonialism, the scourge of poverty and hunger, unchecked international terrorism, and greater inequality and religious discrimination".

"Once more - and suffice to consider recent events in Egypt and other parts of the world - we must say 'no' to any exploitation of religion. Violence among religions is a scandal which distorts the true identity of religions, it obscures the face of God and distances us from the faith.

"The journey of religions towards justice and peace", the cardinal added, "must be characterised by a joint search for truth. ... Therefore Benedict XVI wishes the 2011 initiative in Assisi ... to be seen as a pilgrimage; which implies asceticism, purification, convergence towards a more exalted place, and taking on a community responsibility".

The search for truth "is a precondition for knowing one another better, for overcoming all forms of prejudice, and of syncretism which obscures identity".

Tile above by Virginia Maria Romero
from here
It likewise helps us "to collaborate for the common good" and facilitates our "coming together on the plane of natural reason". 

It is a prerequisite "for defeating fanaticism and fundamentalism, according to which peace comes about by imposing one's own convictions on others", and for overcoming "the Babel of languages and the laicism which seeks to remove from the human family the One Who is its Beginning and End".

More than fifty nations will be represented in Assisi. They will include, apart from many European and American countries, Egypt, Israel, Pakistan, Jordan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Philippines and many others,

Those which, at this moment in history, perhaps suffer most from problems associated with religious freedom and dialogue between religions", Cardinal Turkson observed.


For his part, Msgr. Melchor Jose Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, pointed out that the Pope has, for the first time, also invited non-believers to a religious meeting. "This innovative idea of the Holy Father's", he said, "is based on the conviction that men and women, both believers and non-believers, are always searching for God, for the Absolute, and that they are, therefore, all pilgrims travelling towards the fullness of truth".

The Pope's invitation to participate in the Day has been accepted by the French linguist, psychoanalyst, philosopher and writer Julia Kristeva; the Italian philosopher Remo Bodei; the Mexican philosopher Guillermo Hurtado, and the Austrian economist Walter Baier.

Well, there can only be one song -  I hope they will they be singing this together as they travel on that holy roller to Assisi !

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments: