Monday 9 September 2013

Moving towards the Prayer for Peace

After Munich and Sarajevo, the annual International Meeting “Men and Religions” organized by the Sant’Egidio Community will take place in Rome. The theme will be “The courage of hope: religions and cultures in dialogue”.
From Sunday, September 29th through Tuesday, October 1st, more than 400 representatives of the great world religions as well as leading personalities from the world of culture and politics will take part in public meetings and debates, will live an important moment of sharing and dialogue, will celebrate a commitment to peace before the entire world.
The meeting represents a new, faithful incarnation of the same “spirit of Assisi”, of the first,
historic day of interreligious convergence on the topic of peace willed by John Paul II in the city of Saint Francis (October 1986).
The closing ceremony, after the prayer meetings conducted according to the different religious traditions, will take place the evening of October 1st in Capitol Square. Where once the Roman triumphs were celebrated, an Appeal for Peace will be proclaimed, underwritten by men and women with different histories but united by the same desire for peace.. It will be the triumph of a common wish for peace.
A message, a symbol, that reflects the new ecclesial season inaugurated by the election of Pope Francis, but also the difficult times marked by the dramatic news that come from the Middle East, from Syria. To pursue peace means to tend to the laborious path of dialogue, that is to live the courage of hope.  
It is with this perspective in mind that the Community of Sant’Egidio has accepted “with gratitude and total support”  the invitation by Pope Bergoglio to live a day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria and in the rest of the world on September the 7th. 
“War begets war, violence begets violence! With all my strength” said the Pope during the Angelus of September 1st, the anniversary of the beginning of the Second World, “I ask the parties in this conflict to listen to the voice of their own conscience, not to close themselves in solely on their own interests, but rather to look at each other as brothers and decisively and courageously to follow the path of encounter and negotiation”.
The prayer of the faithful in the world wishes to force people to embrace such courage.
In Rome, in Saint Peter’s Square, from 7 pm to 11 pm of Saturday, September 7th, but also in a thousand other locations where the Community is present, Saint’Egidio will come together to pray and “invoke God to grant the great gift of peace for the beloved Syrian nation and for all situations marred by conflict and violence around the world”.  As Pope Francis concluded: “Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace!”
The prayer vigil of the 7th, as well as the meeting at the end of September, are meant to be a gesture of peace that all people may view with hope.

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