"Spirit of Assisi" unites young in prayer

Prayer for peace needs to be heard in synagogues, churches, mosques, pagodas and gurudwaras as well as in schools, workplaces, homes and "most importantly in our hearts", say young people who met for the 20th anniversary of the Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi.

Zenit reports that about 45 young from 29 countries and belonging to Hindu, Taoist, Buddhist, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Zoroastrian, Sikh, Bahai, Tenrikyo and Brahma Kumari traditions came to Assisi and formed themselves as a family for four days.

The Christian participants at the youth meeting, organised by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID), included 35 Catholics and 16 representatives of other Christian Churches and communities.

According to PCID under-secretary, Msgr Felix Machado, "the goal of the meeting was to pass on to the young generation the 'spirit of Assisi'", launched by Pope John Paul II in 1986.

The PCID invited about 100 youth from different religious traditions throughout the world; nearly 50 young people represented the Christians and the rest came from other religious traditions.

Prayer for peace formed the centre of the program so that young people could "testify to the truth that 'prayer does not divide but unites and is a decisive element for an effective pedagogy of peace, hinged on friendship, reciprocal acceptance and dialogue between different cultures and religions' as Pope Benedict XVI wrote," Mgr Machado said.

Separate rooms in the Sacro Convento in Assisi were kept at the disposal of the youth of different religions in order for them to spend quiet time in prayer and meditation according to their respective traditions, according to Zenit.

The participants were welcomed to have their meals in the common refectory by the Friars of the Sacro Convento. The meals were served respecting the traditional religious customs of different religions which were represented at the youth meeting.

Participants concluded the event by issuing a "Message from Youth, to Youth".

"While our prayers were offered in different places," the statement says, "languages and ways, we were united in a single purpose: praying for peace.

"We walked as pilgrims to the site of St Francis of Assisi's conversion 800 years ago, when God called out to Francis 'Go, rebuild my house'.

"Likewise today, in the spirit of our respective religions, we young people hear the call to 'Go, rebuild our world', which is too often broken by violence and war.

"We appeal to all people that peace is not something only to be sought in halls of government, but also in the halls of our synagogues, our churches, our mosques, our temples, our pagodas, our gurudwaras, our atash berhrams, our schools, our workplaces, our homes and most importantly in our hearts," the statement concluded.

Report on Interreligious Youth Meeting at Assisi: "Prayer Does Not Divide But Unites"
Message From Youth, to Youth: "We Were United in a Single Purpose: Praying for Peace" (Zenit, 18/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Cardinal Roger Etchegeray, The Spirit of Assisi (Jubilee 2000, June-September 1996)
For a World of Peace, Religions and culture in dialogue (Community of St Egidio, Assisi, 4-5 September 2006)

Assisi to revive John Paul II's inter-faith "dream of peace" (CathNews, 5/9/06)
Religious leaders in hostage appeal (CathNews, 9/9/04)
Assisi causing string of parallel peace events around world (CathNews, 23/1/02)

20 Nov 2006