Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the first World Day of Peace. It was 1986 this day in Assisi, Italy that Pope John Paul II called together many world religions and leaders to pray and work towards world peace. Today Pope Benedict is celebrating the Anniversary by having a “Day of Reflection and Prayer” and has assembled the world religions and leaders in this same holy place of Saint Francis and Saint Clare. The Pope emphasized that peace must be achieved through truth, justice, peace, and love. Yesterday he spoke to pilgrims saying, “Dear brothers and sisters we want to ask God for the gift of peace, we pray that He make us instruments of peace in a world still torn by hatred, by divisions, by selfishness, by war. We ask that the meeting Thursday in Assisi might encourage dialogue among people of different religious affiliations and bring a ray of light that might illuminate the minds and hearts of all men, so that rancor will give way to pardon, division to reconciliation, hatred and violence to love and gentleness: that peace reign in the world”.
Pope Benedict has approached more peoples for this gathering than his predecessor did in 1986. Pope Benedict has invited non-believers, 170 religious leaders from many faiths, and 50 Muslim delegations. There were only 11 Muslim delegations in 1986.
I find it fascinating that minutes before this meeting the European Union came to an agreement to help save the euro, and perhaps the world economy. To have world peace also requires that we have strong and vibrant economies across many nations. I pray that the world continue to find ways to keep strong economies which is necessary to help with peace, justice, health, and poverty.
(Recommend you read Chapter 4 about truth, peace, justice, and economics)
(Note: Note on Financial Reform is not an official papal document that was released on Monday, and only a recommendation, there was confusion that the Pope was proposing a new world bank which is NOT the case).
The Franciscan Choir sang one of the most famous prayers of Saint Francis “Make me and Instrument of Your Peace.” Below is a wonderful rendition by Sarah MacLachlen. Saint Francis is a symbol of the efforts of faith and peace, and I hope this gathering will have lasting fruits for all those touched by its message. Now that our world population is passing the 7 billion mark at the end of this month-we all need to live in peace together.