Angelus Address Looks Ahead to Assisi

Participants Hope to Discredit and Isolate the Violent, Pope Says

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ROME, JAN. 20, 2002 ( John Paul II appeared at his library window at midday today to pray the Angelus with pilgrims gathered below in St. Peter´s Square. Here is a translation of his address which he gave in Italian.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. Following the tragic attack last Sept. 11, always present in our memory, and given the risk of new conflicts, believers are aware of the urgency to intensify their prayer for peace, because this is, above all, a gift of God. This was the context of the Day of Fasting last Dec. 14, to which very many adhered, as well as of the Day of Prayer for Peace, which will be held in Assisi on Jan. 24. Representatives of different Christian confessions and other religions will participate. Thus, the experience of Oct. 27, 1986, will be repeated when, for the first time, St. Francis´ city witnessed leaders of the religions of the world gathered within its walls, to raise to heaven a fervid supplication for peace.

2. Since then a new spirit, often called the «spirit of Assisi,» inspires the interreligious dialogue and links it indissolubly to the commitment for justice, the safeguarding of creation, and peace. The Day of Prayer for Peace in no way is an attempt to indulge in religious syncretism. In fact, all religious groups will pray in different places according to their own faith, their own language, their own tradition, in full respect of others. What will unite all the participants is the certainty that peace is a gift of God. As believers, each one knows he is called to be an agent of peace.

On this basis, men and women belonging to different religious not only can collaborate, but what is more, must increasingly be committed to defend and promote the effective recognition of human rights, indispensable condition for an authentic and lasting peace. In the face of violence, which in these times rages in so many regions of the earth, they feel the need to show that religions are a factor of solidarity, discrediting and isolating all those who instrumentalize the name of God for purposes or with methods that in reality offend him.

3. Next Thursday, God willing, we will undertake a pilgrimage together by train, following the example of Blessed John XXIII, who went to Loreto and Assisi on Oct. 4, 1962. I invite believers and people of good will of the whole world to unite themselves to this pilgrimage, as we are all called to build peace together. I would particularly like to invite religious and monastic communities, especially those that are cloistered, as well as children, the sick and the elderly, to be united with us in prayer.

May Mary, Queen of Peace, obtain for humanity the precious gift of peace and help us to be every environment, as Francis was, instruments of that peace that only God can give.

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[After praying the Angelus, the Pope said the following]

Once again — and with what sadness — I am constrained to recall the dramatic situation in the Holy Land, where repeated attacks and reprisals sow blood and death every day.

This perverse logic does not lead to a way out and it is painful to see how the protagonists in the conflict have been led into a blind alley.

I cannot but heartbrokenly appeal to the leaders of the parties in conflict to put an end to such clashes and to the international community not to abandon them. It is urgent to identify together those instruments capable of putting in motion the dynamic of peace, in order to permit Israelis and Palestinians to think of their future.

May God, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, enlighten the mind and heart of every man of good will!

Moreover, I assure my spiritual closeness to the peoples stricken by the fury of the Nyiragongo volcano, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which reactivated a few days ago with unheard of violence. Let us not be lacking in assistance to all those who suffer because of this great calamity.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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