VATICAN CITY, NOV. 17, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is reminding a group of interreligious leaders that peace is both a gift and a task.
The Pope said this in a message sent through his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace.
These annual meetings are sponsored by the Catholic lay Sant'Egidio Community. This year's event is cosponsored by the Orthodox Church of Cyprus and ends Tuesday.
"The current meeting, promoted by the Community of Sant'Egidio and by the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, gathering together personalities from Europe, Africa and Central America for three days in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, takes place 22 years after the historical World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, convened by the Servant of God John Paul II," the papal message said.
It added, "On that memorable occasion our beloved Pope urged those present and the world at large to live that precious time close to St. Francis as a moment of mutual listening, an opportunity to 'clear away the fog of suspicion and misunderstanding' and ask God our Father for the precious gift of peace."
The Pontiff's message said the 2008 meeting will also be a "powerful experience of communion."
"[I]t will open up a wider vision of reality and give rise to dialogue between brothers; it represents, furthermore, a moment of true, real and mutual understanding of each other's differences, as well as of the peculiarities and elements that we share," the message continued. "Only through dialogue and sincere efforts it is possible to be integrated in this 'multiform and multifaceted linguistic cosmos' within the precious chest of Creation, which is entrusted to the common responsibility and good of every human being."
Peace is "at the same time a gift and a task," the message affirmed, and assured the participants of the Holy Father's prayers for success.
The Pope "encourages [the meeting] to keep up the flame of peace, nourished by daily gestures of brotherly love and friendship, and he wholeheartedly conveys to everyone a special apostolic blessing," the message concluded.