Shadows Will Not Be Dissipated With Weapons But With Light

VATICAN CITY, JAN 24, 2002 (VIS) - Following the Pope's welcome to the representatives from different religions who are participating in the Day of Prayer for Peace in the World in Assisi, Italy, Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, then read some brief words as an introduction to the testimonials for peace.

The delegates then delivered speeches-testimonials in support of peace, in various languages and interspersed with music.

The Pope then made an address:

"We have come to Assisi on a pilgrimage of peace. We are here, as representatives of different religions, to examine ourselves before God concerning our commitment to peace, to ask Him for this gift, to bear witness to our shared longing for a world of greater justice and solidarity. We wish to do our part in fending off the dark clouds of terrorism, hatred, armed conflict, which in these last few months have grown particularly ominous on humanity's horizon. For this reason we wish to listen to one another: we believe that this itself is already a sign of peace. In listening to one another there is already a reply to the disturbing questions that worry us. This already serves to scatter the shadows of suspicion and misunderstanding.

"The shadows will not be dissipated with weapons; darkness is dispelled by sending out bright beams of light. A few days ago I reminded the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See that hatred can only be overcome through love.

"We are meeting in Assisi, where everything speaks of a singular prophet of peace known as Francis. He is loved not only by Christians, but by many other believers and by people who, though far removed from religion, identify with his ideals of justice reconciliation and peace.

"Here the 'poor man of Assisi' invites us first of all to raise a song of gratitude to God for His gifts. We praise God for the beauty of the cosmos and of the earth, ... for the gift of life. ... Life in all its forms is entrusted in a special way to the care of man. With daily-renewed wonder, we note the variety of manifestations of human life, from the complementarity of male and female, to a multiplicity of distinctive gifts belonging to the different cultures and traditions that form a multifaceted and versatile linguistic, cultural and artistic cosmos. This multiplicity is called to form a cohesive whole, in the contact and dialogue that will enrich and bring joy to all."

"History has always known men and women ... (who are) witnesses to peace. By their example they teach us that it is possible to build between individuals and peoples bridges that lead us to come together and walk with one another on the paths of peace."

"Peace! Humanity is always in need of peace, but now more than ever, after the tragic events which have undermined its confidence and in the face of persistent flashpoints of cruel conflict which create anxiety throughout the world. In my Message for January 1, I stressed the two 'pillars' upon which peace rests: commitment to justice and readiness to forgive."

"Justice, first of all, because there can be no true peace without respect for the dignity of persons and peoples. ... It can never be forgotten that situations of oppression and exclusion are often at the source of violence and terrorism. But forgiveness too, because human justice is subject to frailty and to the pressures of individual and group egoism."

"Our gathering today, in a context of dialogue with God, offers us a chance to reaffirm that in God we find pre-eminently the union of justice and mercy. ... That is why religions are at the service of peace. It is the duty of religions, and of their leaders above all, to foster in the people of our time a renewed sense of the urgency of building peace."

"This was recognized by those who took part in the inter-religious gathering in the Vatican in October 1999. They affirmed that religious traditions have the resources needed to overcome fragmentation and to promote mutual friendship and respect among peoples. ... It is essential, therefore, that religious people and communities should in the clearest and most radical way repudiate violence, all violence, starting with the violence that seeks to clothe itself in religion, appealing even to the most holy name of God in order to offend man. To offend against man is, most certainly, to offend against God. There is no religious goal which can possibly justify the use of violence by man against man.

"I now turn in a special way to you, my Christian brothers and sisters. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ calls us to be apostles of peace. He made His own the Golden Rule well known to ancient wisdom: 'Whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them,' and God's commandment to Moses: 'Love your neighbor as yourself'."

"Brothers and sisters gathered here from different parts of the world. ... Let us ask that we be given the gift of recognizing the path of peace, of right relationship with God and among ourselves. ... We have a single goal and a shared intention, but we will pray in different ways, respecting one another's religious traditions. In this too, deep down, there is a message: we wish to show the world that the genuine impulse to prayer does not lead to opposition and still less to disdain of others, but rather to constructive dialogue, a dialogue in which each one, without relativism or syncretism of any kind, becomes more deeply aware of the duty to bear witness and to proclaim.

"Now is the time to overcome decisively those temptations to hostility which have not been lacking in the religious history of humanity. In fact, when these temptations appeal to religion, they show a profoundly immature face of religion. True religious feeling leads rather to a perception in one way or another of the mystery of God, the source of goodness, and that is a wellspring of respect and harmony between peoples: indeed religion is the chief antidote to violence and conflict."

At the end of his address, the Pope, referring to the wind which had blown throughout, recalled the biblical phrase: "the Spirit blows where He will" and expressed the hope that the same Spirit accompany all those who prayed for peace in Assisi.

Following this first part of the Day of Prayer, the Pope invited those present to proceed to the designated places in order to pray for peace. John Paul II and the Christian delegations, who made up the largest group, transferred to the lower basilica.

Once the procession formed by the Pope and representatives of Churches and ecclesial communities reached the altar, the Books of the Gospel were incensed and the Holy Father introduced the celebration. One of the representatives pronounced a biblical text from the pulpit. After reciting three prayers for peace, interspersed by brief moments of silence, the Pope intoned the Our Father, joined by the whole congregation. The gathering left the basilica to the accompaniment of the choir.

Later, the Pope and the representatives from the various religions met for lunch at the refectory of the Convent of St. Francis of Assisi; the accompanying delegations were welcomed at other locations within the convent.

This afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in the Lower Square of St. Francis, ten representatives will read texts in different languages expressing their common commitment to peace. The Holy Father will then exclaim: "Violence never again! War never again! Terrorism never again! In the name of God, may every religion bring upon the earth Justice and Peace, Forgiveness and Life, Love!" Then, the Pope, followed by each of the representatives will light a candle as a symbol of this commitment. The Holy Father will exchange a sign of peace and communion with all the representatives and pronounce a few brief words of farewell.

Before taking the train to return to the Vatican together with the delegates, John Paul II will briefly greet the nuns in the Basilica of St. Clare and the Friars Minor in the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels.

The peace train is expected to arrive at the Vatican City railway station at 7:45 p.m.

Vatican Information Service
24. januar 2002

av Webmaster publisert 25.01.2002, sist endret 25.01.2002 - 22:58