VATICAN CITY, JAN. 20, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II emphasized that the upcoming day of prayer in Assisi will avoid all forms of religious syncretism, while religions will repudiate violence in the name of God.
Addressing pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square for the midday Angelus, the Pope spoke about Thursday´s event that will draw religious leaders from around the world.
“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,” the Pope said before praying the Angelus.
From the window of his library, which looks out on St. Peter´s Square, the Holy Father explained that following “the tragic attack last Sept. 11, always present in our memory, and given the risk of new conflicts,” the experience of Oct. 27, 1986, will be repeated. On that day in 1986, for the first time, leaders of the world´s religions came together in Assisi to pray for peace.
Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls confirmed Friday that representatives of virtually all Christian confessions and religions will participate in the Assisi meeting. Religious leaders will undertake the pilgrimage with the Pope by train, from the Vatican to St. Francis´ city.
“The Day of Prayer for Peace in no way is an attempt to indulge in religious syncretism,” the Holy Father clarified. “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,” the Pope added.
“On this basis, men and women belonging to different religions 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,” he emphasized.
Lastly, John Paul II invited all “believers and people of good will of the whole world” to unite themselves spiritually to this initiative, particularly, the “religious and monastic communities, especially those that are cloistered, as well as children, the sick and the elderly.”