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Faith leaders gathered in Assisi plead for world peace

By editor - 21 September, 2016

Pic: courtesy AFP

Pic: courtesy AFP

Source: Vatican Radio

Pope Francis has warned humanity against “the deafening silence of indifference and selfishness” before the cry of those who live under the threat of bombs and plead for peace.

The Pope was speaking at an ecumenical prayer ceremony with representatives of other Christian denominations in the Lower Basilica of St Francis during the closing of the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, where he had travelled on Tuesday to participate in the event organised by the Sant’Egidio Community.

The theme of the three-day international meeting this year was ‘Thirst for Peace. Religions and Cultures in Dialogue’.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the First World Day of Prayer for Peace that St John Paul convened back in 1986, an historic event which saw world leaders of different religions come together for the very first time to pray for peace.

Elsewhere in his comments, Pope Francis spoke of the ‘thirst’ of Jesus in which we can “hear the voice of the suffering, the hidden cry of the little innocent ones to whom the light of this world is denied, the sorrowful plea of the poor and those most in need of peace.”

“The victims of war, which sullies people with hate and the earth with arms, plead for peace; our brothers and sisters, who live under the threat of bombs and are forced to leave their homes into the unknown, stripped of everything, plead for peace”.

And before concluding with a prayer for full communion between all Christians, the Pope said that like Jesus, the victims of war are “frequently given the bitter vinegar of rejection. Who listens to them? Who bothers responding to them?”

The Pope travelled to Assisi by helicopter and after his landing near the  Basilica of St Mary of the Angels where Bishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi and the local authorities greeted him, the Pope travelled by car to the Holy Convent of Assisi.

Here he was welcomed by Father Mauro Gambetti, Custodian of the Holy Convent, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, a Muslim reprepresentative, Dr Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, the Syro-Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Efrem II, a Jewish representative and the Supreme Head of Tendai Buddhism (Japan). They then moved to the Cloister of Sixtus IV where the representatives of Christian denominations and World Religions were waiting.

Pope Francis greeted all participants at the World Day of Prayer for Peace before having lunch in the refectory of the Holy Convent, a lunch that was also attended by and refugees from Syria.

During the afternoon Pope Francis met individually with Bartholomew I, a Muslim representative, Archbishop Justin Welby, Patriarch Efrem II and a Jewish representative.

From 4pm local time Prayers for Peace took place in different venues.

The Ecumenical Prayer of Christians took place in the Lower Basilica of St. Francis, after which all the participants are meeting with the Representatives of other religions who have prayed in different places before moving to the podium in the Square.

A closing ceremony took place at 5.15pm in St Francis Square with messages read by Pope Francis, a victim of war, Patriarch Bartholomew I, a Muslim representative, a Jewish representative, Japanese Buddhist Patriarch and by Professor Andrea Riccardi, Founder of the Sant’Egidio Community.

The World Day of Prayer for Peace concluded with the signing of an Appeal for Peace, the lighting of two symbolic candles and the exchange of a sign of peace.

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