Sant'Egidio Peace Meeting Draws Orthodox

Cyprus Hosts This Year’s Prayer Event

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NICOSIA, Cyprus, NOV. 16, 2008 ( Orthodox, Catholics and people of other faiths are gathered together on the island of Cyprus to pray for a civilization of peace.

The International Meeting of Prayer for Peace, traditionally sponsored by the Catholic lay Sant’Egidio Community, and this year cosponsored by the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, began today and ends Tuesday. This 22nd meeting is on «The Civilization of Peace: Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue.»

These annual international meetings are part of the heritage of the World Day of Prayer for Peace convened in Assisi by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 27, 1986.

Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II of New Justiniana and All Cyprus prayed together at Mass on Saturday evening with Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches.

In his homily, Chrysostomos II spoke about the island’s difficult situation, emphasizing the significance of peace as an absolute value: «Even if in different languages, through the liturgy we have affirmed our unity in faith and the bond of love between us.»

Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, in greeting the Orthodox Churches, underscored the beauty of the Orthodox liturgy, which leads the heart to peace: «The liturgy […] already brings us into the Kingdom of Christ, the true world of peace, indeed, the true civilization of peace.»

«It reminds us that peace is first of all a gift of God, which we must ask of him praying, loving and forgiving,» he continued. «The beauty of the Divine Liturgy, which is celebrated in the Church of Cyprus with such love and according to an ancient tradition, shows us that peace is beautiful and desirable.

«Peace transfigures men, women, peoples. May the prayer of this holy liturgy transfigure our world and make it a land of peace.»

Cardinal Sandri then greeted Chrysostomos II and Theodoros II, patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, in the name of Benedict XVI.

The Pope opened last year’s international encounter, co-sponsored the Archdiocese of Naples, on Oct. 21, 2007.

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