The prayers for peace in Assisi 1986-2016

The prayers for peace in Assisi 1986-2016

By Fr. Rif'at Bader/CCSM director

The world marks this week the 30th anniversary of the first "universal" prayers held in the city of Assisi, south of the Italian peninsula, which Pope John Paul II had called for, and which witnessed the participation of a large number of representatives of different religions and Churches.

Today, the leaders of religions ride the "train of peace" heading from Rome to Assisi for the first ever reason, namely the prayer for peace under the title, "Thirst for Peace."

Pope Francis will stay in the city of Pope Francis who had launched the prayer, namely “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” Among the participants in the prayers are Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople of the Eastern Orthodox Church Bartholomew I in addition to representatives of the Islamic and Jewish religions as well as the archbishop of Canterbury, Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church Ignatius Aphrem II , representatives of the religions of the Far East and representatives of various churches.

The past 30 years have included points of strength and weakness. People became more sophisticated and this period witnessed people’s solidarity and participation in several global meetings which focused on the need to attain cohesion and integration that exclude any intention to dominate other people or force them to embrace beliefs that they do not believe in. There have been several international initiatives in which Jordan significantly contributed to in order to indicate that religion is an inevitable factor which genuinely contributes to formulating a harmonious system among religions and their followers.

Yet, these bright images were concomitant with bleak and painful ones since religion has been involved in several battles all this time, terrorist groups have emerged with people recruited to kill and torment others in the name of religion and sometimes in the name of the Almighty God.

There is nowadays an urgent need for expressing further “love’’ in the meetings and joint prayers, with every party using its own language and method of worship. The meetings indicate that unity is possible despite plurality. These variations expose beauty where no certain colour is designed to eliminate the other neighboring colours.

We join others who pray on this day, particularly with Sant'Egidio that promotes global evangelization and charity, and with all those who monitor the event on TV screens and electronic websites. We pray that religion will remain a cornerstone that shoulders heavy responsibilities and thus maintain "safe corridors" for younger generations to come.

The harmony among the followers of religions, which is revealed by praying together, is a real contribution to the dissemination of an atmosphere of peace and justice. It quenches the thirst of humanity and maintains a clean environment that serves as a safe house for humanity as a whole. The meeting of representatives of religions today with Pope Francis, in this Year of Mercy, is a clear contribution to the common concern of the poor and the forcibly displaced who have the right to a decent life.

The words expressed by Pope John Paul II 30 years ago in Assisi deeply resonate in the technically developed world of today which lags behind in terms of love. We thus repeat his words and say:"The very fact that we have come to Assisi from various quarters of the world does not mean that there is an intention to seek mutual religious reconciliation. Here lies the major symbolism which indicates that humanity is called upon to seek more profound perceptions, where the conscience is born and on whose basis humans act."

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