Community of St. Egidio Presents “Religions and Cultures” Meeting to Pope

Will Gather Religious and Cultural Leaders

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 3, 2004 ( Members of the Community of St. Egidio presented to John Paul II the program for the international meeting: «Religions and Cultures: the Courage to Forge a New Spiritual Humanism.”

Presenting to the Holy Father on Thursday at Castel Gandolfo was the founder of the community, Andrea Riccardi, and the ecclesiastical assistant, Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of the Italian dioceses of Terni, Narni and Amelia.

The Pope was given the program of the congress, to be held in Milan from Sept. 5-7, which forms part of the community’s commitment to dialogue and peace, in keeping with the «spirit of Assisi,» fruit of the historical meeting promoted by the Holy Father in 1986.

«Three years after September 11, 2001, the objective of the initiative is to be a genuine summit of religious and secular culture in Milan, with the collaboration of the archdiocese,» it was announced on Friday in a press conference in Milan.

This year’s meeting will hold 36 round tables of an international character, with the participation of 350 men and women from around the world who are experts in culture, protagonists of civil life and representatives of the most important religions.

Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan, and Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the Italian episcopal conference and vicar general of Rome, will open the event, together with Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger of Israel, and Ibrahim Ezzedine, presidential advisor in the United Arab Emirates.

The participants will include 12 cardinals and patriarchs, among them Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

Also invited are religious of different Iraqi communities, numerous Muslim representatives, including Mohammed Sherif, secretary general of the World Islamic Call Society; Hasan Hanafi, of the University of Cairo; and Mehmet Aydin, Turkish Minister of State in charge of Religious Affairs.

Michel Camdessus, former Director of the International Monetary Fund, and Katherine Marshall, adviser to President Bush on the World Bank, will attend as experts in international finance and economics.

Among the intellectuals attracted to the event are the Jewish writer and theater director Moni Ovadia, Italian writer Susanna Tamaro, philosopher and former Mayor of Venice, Massimo Cacciari, biblicist Gianfranco Ravasi, and Algerian journalist Jean Daniel, founder and director of the French weekly «Le Nouvel Observateur.»

The politicians who will attend the meeting include, among others, Romano Prodi, outgoing president of the European Commission; and Franco Frattini, Italian Foreign Affairs Minister.

This is the second time that this annual event is held in Milan. The first was in 1993 with the theme: «Land of Men, Invocations to God.»

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