Cardinal Ratzinger Comments on Lessons of Assisi

Evaluates Religious Leaders´ Day of Prayer for Peace

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ROME, FEB. 21, 2002 ( Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger described the train that took religious leaders from the Vatican to Assisi as «a symbol of our pilgrimage in history.»

In an article in the forthcoming issue of 30 Days magazine (, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith evaluates the historic summit that gathered the leaders Jan. 24.<br>
«Are we not all, perhaps, passengers on the same train?» Cardinal Ratzinger asks in the article. «Is not the fact that the train chose as its destiny peace and justice, and the reconciliation of peoples and religions, a great inspiration and, at the same time, a splendid sign of hope?»

Multitudes of people gathered in all the stations between the Vatican and Assisi to greet the pilgrims of peace, says the German cardinal, who himself was a passenger on the train. The enthusiasm was no less in Assisi, especially among young people.

The people´s applause was directed above all to the Pope, who called the meeting «with the force of his personality, the depth of his faith, and the passion for peace and reconciliation that stems from it,» Cardinal Ratzinger writes.

The applause was also for «all those who along with him seek peace and justice, and it was a sign of the profound desire for peace felt by individuals in face of the devastation that surrounds us, caused by hatred and violence,» the cardinal adds.

In his address that day, the Pope said that Christ is our peace. «As Christians, we must not hide this conviction: On the part of the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch the confession of Christ our peace was clear and solemn» that day, the cardinal says.

The way undertaken by the world´s religious leaders «must be for all a way of purification,» Cardinal Ratzinger continues.

Before his conversion, St. Francis was a Christian, but then he began to think of Christianity in a new way. Only after this experience was he able to hear the voice of the Crucified, to see his nakedness, his poverty, and humiliation in contrast to the luxury and violence that previously seemed normal, the cardinal notes.

«Only then did he really know that the Crusades were not the appropriate way to protect the rights of Christians in the Holy Land, but that one had to take literally the message of the imitation of the Crucifix,» the cardinal explains.

From Francis «emerges even today the splendor of a peace that convinced the sultan and really knocked down the walls,» Cardinal Ratzinger emphasizes.

«If we as Christians undertake the way of peace following St. Francis´ example, we must not fear to lose our identity: It is precisely then when we find it,» the cardinal concludes.

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