300 Religious Leaders Expected at Assisi

Extraordinary Response from Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim Leaders

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ROME, JAN. 16, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A provisional list of participants in the Day of Prayer for Peace, scheduled for Jan. 24 in Assisi, reveals that at least 44 religious delegations with 300 people will attend.

Compared to the 1986 and 1993 meetings in Assisi, this is the first time a large Muslim representation from Iran will attend. The final list of participants will be published shortly before the Day of Prayer.

Eleven Orthodox patriarchs, led by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, are planning to attend. So are six ancient Eastern Churches, and 16 Churches and Christian communities of the West. There has been no confirmation from the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow.

Also expected are delegations from Judaism, Buddhism, Tenrikyo, Shintoism, Islam, Jainism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and traditional African religions, as well as other Christian denominations.

The Jewish delegation is particularly representative. It includes Chief Rabbi Emeritus Elio Toaff of Rome, who will be in Assisi with Riccardo di Segni, his successor and six other representatives of world Judaism, including French Grand Rabbi Samuel Rene Sirat and David Rosen, president of the Children of the Covenant association.

Never before have so many Muslims responded to a papal invitation as on this occasion. There will be delegates from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, the Philippines, Lebanon, Egypt, the United States, Albania, Bulgaria, Jordan, Jerusalem, Libya, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Italy. Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric of Bosnia Herzegovina will also attend.

Rissho Kosei-Kai Buddhism will be represented by Nichiko Niwano, son of Nikkio Niwano, founder of this association, who was the first non-Christian observer at Second Vatican Council and who also attended the 1986 and 1993 meetings in Assisi.

In total, some 300 people will join the Pope and his entourage of 33 cardinals, archbishops and bishops headed by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state.

Also traveling in a special train from the Vatican will be representatives of movements and ecclesial communities, such as the Focolares, Sant´Egidio, Communion and Liberation, Neocatechumenal Way, and the Taizé Community.

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