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Spirit of Assisi Is Not Syncretism, Affirms Pope

Says It Is “Evangelical” to Unite Acceptance and Faith

ASSISI, Italy, JUNE 18, 2007 ( Benedict XVI clarified that the spirit of peace among religions promoted by St. Francis and Pope John Paul II is not religious syncretism.

This was one of the main messages during the German Pope’s pilgrimage on Sunday to the city of the saint. The pilgrimage marked the 800th anniversary of Francis’ conversion.

“I cannot forget, in the context of today’s celebration, the initiative of my predecessor of holy memory, John Paul II, who in 1986, brought together here the representatives of the Christian churches and other religions of the world, for a meeting of prayer for peace,” said Benedict XVI at the end of his homily during the Mass celebrated in the lower square outside the Basilica of St. Francis.

He continued: “It was a prophetic intuition and a moment of grace, as I mentioned a few months ago in my letter to the bishop of this city on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of that event.

“The decision to celebrate that meeting in Assisi was inspired by the witness of Francis as a man of peace, who is looked upon with admiration, even by those of other cultures and religions.

“At the same time, the light of the poor man of Assisi which shone upon that event was a guarantee of its Christian authenticity, given that his life and his message clearly show his choice for Christ, refuting a priori any temptation to religious indifference, which has nothing to do with authentic interreligious dialogue.”

Benedict XVI said that the “spirit of Assisi” continues to spread throughout the world since the 1986 event. He called it a spirit “in opposition to the spirit of violence, the abuse of religion as a pretext for violence.”

The Pope added: “Assisi tells us that faithfulness to one’s own religious conviction, faithfulness above all to Christ crucified and risen, is not expressed in violence and intolerance, but in sincere respect for the other, in dialogue, in a message that calls out for freedom and reason, in working for peace and for reconciliation.

“It would not be evangelical, nor Franciscan, to be unable to unite acceptance, dialogue and respect for all with the certainty of faith which each Christian, like the saint of Assisi, is called to cultivate, proclaiming Christ as the way, truth and life of mankind, the one and only savior of the world.”

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