London: nine faiths pray together for peace

 As Pope John Paul II welcomes leaders of the world's religions to Assisi tomorrow, the church in London will be holding a multifaith celebration of peace and reconciliation, at the Maria Assumpta Centre, 23 Kensington Square, at 11.30am. Bishop James O'Brien, representing Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, who is with the Pope in Assisi, will lead a service with the following representatives from nine world faiths, who will each deliver a testimonial: Mr Barnabas Leith, Secretary General of the Baha'i community in the UK The Ven Dr Medagama Vajirajnana, Abbot of the London Buddhist Vihara, Sanghanayake of Great Britain The Rev John Scott, inter-faith advisor to the Anglican Bishop of Kensington and Chelsea Varsana Devi Dasi, International Society for Krishna Consciousness Mr Subhaj Bakkhai, President, Navan Vanik Association representing the Jain tradition The Rev Rabbi Jacqueline Tabick, North West Surrey Synagogue Zaffar Ashraf, Islamia Islamic School Trust Mrs Charanjit Ajit Singh representing the Sikhs The Rev Ervad Sethna from the Zoroastrian tradition. After a period of silent prayer and meditation, the group will recite the following commitment to peace and reconciliation: "The escalation of violence in recent months in various parts of the world urges us to come together today to raise our voice to denounce violence in all its forms. We are for peace based on justice for all. We pray and make a pledge to work for peace and to heal the wounds of discord and division." Guests will then exchange a sign of peace, before singing a version of St Francis of Assisi's prayer, "Make me a channel of your peace". Bishop O'Brien said: "It was my great privilege to attend the last meeting of world faith leaders in Assisi in 1986. At that time there was a certain amount of cynicism about the meeting, but within months there was substantial agreement on arms reduction between the two superpowers. Since then it has become even more urgent that there should be contact and discussion between the world faiths. The Assisi meeting this week and our meeting in London are evidence not only of the concern of the Catholic Church but also of other faiths for the need to improve relations between religious communities, and to work together for peace." The celebration has been organised by Westminster Interfaith. source: CMO

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