Cardinal Turkson's Greeting in Assisi

«May Our Experience of These 25 Years Then Beckon Us … to Recommit Ourselves Today»

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ASSISI, Italy, OCT. 27, 2011 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the introductory greeting given today in Assisi at the Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World, by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

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In October 1986 at the invitation of Blessed John Paul II, Heads and Representatives of Christian Churches, Ecclesial Communities and World Religions gathered here in Assisi, the city of St Francis, to fast and pray for peace.They came mindful that «peace», as the Pope declared on that occasion, «needs to be built on justice, truth, freedom and love», and that «Religions have the necessary function of helping to dispose human hearts, so that true peace can be fostered and preserved». 

Twenty-five years after that historic gathering, I have the pleasure to welcome you heartily to Assisi, where we have come together at the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate the memory of that moment of brotherhood and prayer and to set out anew as «pilgrims of truth and pilgrims of peace». We are gathered here aware of a common call to live together in peace, a deep yearning that throbs incessantly in our hearts. The indefatigable search for that desire’s attainment makes us fellow travellers.

We come from different religious traditions and from various parts of the world to renew and strengthen a quest for the truth that each of us, out of our own tradition, is ceaselessly committed to. We come also to bear witness to the great power of religion for good, and to renew a common commitment to building peace, to reconciling those in conflict and to bringing man back into harmony with creation.

The twenty-five years of our joint effort for peace have richly displayed our sense of brotherhood and solidarity in the service of our world and the human family. But the years have also been fraught with challenges to the sense of man and history. We have entered a century in which ideologies would reduce the sense of human person, and distort the relationships with nature. The strong resource competition among peoples in a climate-constrained environment threatens to dissolve the fabric of human society and devastate the very order of creation which Francis of Assisi praised in his Canticle of the Sun. The beautiful song bespeaks an awakening to the universe to be seen not only as a collection of things to be worked and consumed but also as a «community of life» to be entered into profoundly, humbly and creatively. 

Thanks to electronic media and globalization, we live in a time of an unprecedented wealth, knowledge and proximity; yet is there not ever more insecurity, inequality and deprivation? We are torn apart by intolerance, hostility and violence so totally contradictory to the vision of the Poverello of Assisi, whose example inspires us to regard one another with respect, yes love, regardless of origin and creed.

May our experience of these twenty-five years then beckon us ever more intensely and with a great sense of urgency to recommit ourselves today, with the endowments of reason and the gifts of faith, to becoming ever more pilgrims of truth and making our world a place of ever greater peace!

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