Gathering for peace in Assisi

 More than 175 religious leaders from all faiths will be joining the Pope in Assisi on Thursday to pray for peace. In a ceremony held in a large white tent, outside the Basilica of St Francis, they will read the following commitment in many different languages: "In the name of God, each religion should bring on earth justice and peace, forgiveness and life, love." Afterwards a morning session of peace appeals, religious groups will go to designated sites in Assisi to pray by themselves. Christians will pray before the tomb of St Francis. The tent was chosen as a neutral prayer space symbolising everyone's equality. A commitment not to use God's name for war will be made in the tent in the afternoon before the leaders return to Rome. In another symbolic attempt to make all feel equal, the Pope and most participants will arrive in Assisi by train from the Vatican and return the same way at the end of the day. The Pope called the meeting called the meeting in November, after the terrorist attacks in America. He said on Sunday: "After the tragic attacks of last September 11, forever in our memory, and faced with the risk of new conflicts, believers feel the need to intensify their prayer for peace, because it is above all a gift from God." He said: "Faced with violence hitting many parts of the world today, they feel a need to show that religions can create solidarity, rejecting and isolating those who exploit God's name for aims and by means that in reality offend God." Assisi is the birthplace of St Francis, who is most associated with peace. He wrote the prayer 'Make me a channel of your peace,' and tried to bring an end to the war between Muslims and Christians in the 13th century. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor will be attending. There will be representatives from all over the world from the Orthodox, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran and Pentecostal churches, as well as Muslims and Jewish leaders, Buddhists, Sikhs, Shintos, Jains, Zoroastrians and members of traditional African religions. Among the Jewish representatives there will be Rabbi David Rosen, of Jerusalem, President of the International Council of Christians and Jews. The World Council of Churches will be represented by its Secretary-General Reverend Konrad Raiser. Among the Muslim leaders is Mustafa Ceric Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Orthodox delegation will be headed by Bartholomew the first, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. The Pope hosted a similar meeting in Assisi in 1986. During that session, nearly all parties in armed conflicts around the world adhered to his appeal and laid down their arms for 24 hours as a gesture of peace while the meeting was held. The Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey and the Dalai Lama attended in 1986 but they are not able to come this time. EWTN will be providing live coverage from Assisi, from 10:00 am London time, 11:00 Rome time, for two and a half hours. In the UK and Ireland hundreds of peace prayer events are planned. For more details see the Listings Pages or visit: UK & Ireland all faiths pray for peace.

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