"Artisans of Peace" Will Be Heard Jan. 24, John Paul II Says

Reveals Hopes for Day of Prayer with Religious Leaders

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II said he called for the Day of Prayer for Peace with religious leaders so that the world can hear the voice of «artisans of peace.»

The Holy Father expressed this hope when he received the letters of credence of Vladimir Nikolaev Gradev, the new Bulgarian ambassador to the Vatican. Until recently, Gradev was secretary of the Catholic bishops´ conference in Bulgaria.

«Today´s world, tempted once again by confrontations and the blind violence of terrorism, has great need to hear the voice of men of dialogue and artisans of peace,» the Pontiff said in his address to the diplomat.

«I ardently hope that this will happen next Jan. 24, when religious leaders of the whole world meet in Assisi, on the occasion of the Day of Prayer for Peace,» the Bishop of Rome said.

Turning to the situation in Bulgaria, the Holy Father expressed satisfaction that the country, since the fall of communism, has become a «land of meeting and tolerance,» between Eastern and Western Europe. The Pope plans to visit Bulgaria next May 24.

Lastly, the Pontiff assured the new Bulgarian ambassador that the country´s Catholic community wishes to contribute to national coexistence by promoting good relations with the Orthodox Church. Bulgaria, with 8 million people, is 2% Catholic and 83.5% Orthodox.

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