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Forgive others and find peace, Pope Francis says at Assisi

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ASSISI, Italy — Celebrating how God’s mercy has been experienced for 800 years in a tiny stone church in Assisi, Pope Francis said people need to experience God’s forgiveness and start learning how to forgive others. Read more »

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World expects believers to work together for peace, Pope Francis says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The world expects all people of religious faith to work with everyone for a better future, Pope Francis told representatives of major religions.

Pope Francis poses for a selfie with a member of the inter-religious community during his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 28. (CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

Pope Francis poses for a selfie with a member of the inter-religious community during his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 28. (CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters)

“We can walk together taking care of each other and of creation” in joint projects that fight poverty, war and corruption and help people live in dignity, he told them during a special general audience dedicated to interreligious dialogue.

The audience in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 28 marked the 50th anniversary of “Nostra Aetate,” the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on relations with other religions; the audience also recalled the historic first World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, Italy, Oct. 27, 1986.

“The flame, lit in Assisi, spread to the whole world and marks a permanent sign of peace,” Pope Francis said in his address.

The rain-soaked square was awash with color as thousands gathered under colorful umbrellas or plastic ponchos. Large groups of people came from other Christian communities and from other world religions and many held aloft olive branches. Representatives of many religious traditions sat in a VIP section near the pope and prayed in silence with him at the end of the audience.

Inviting the thousands gathered in the square to pray according to their own religious tradition, the pope said, “Let us ask the Lord to make us be more like brothers and sisters, and more like servants to our brothers and sisters in need.”

In his written address, the pope said, “The world looks to us believers, it urges us to collaborate with each other and people of goodwill who do not profess any religion, it asks from us effective responses to many issues: peace, hunger, poverty,” the environmental and economic crises, corruption, moral decay and violence, especially that waged in the name of religion.

Religions don’t have a special “recipe” to solve these problems, he said, “but we have a great resource, prayer. Prayer is our treasure,” which believers turn to in order to ask for those gifts people are yearning for.

Concerning the future of interreligious dialogue, he said, “the first thing we have to do is pray. Without the Lord, nothing is possible; with him, everything becomes” possible.

He asked that prayer lead people to follow the will of God, who wants everyone to recognize each other as brothers and sisters and to form a “great human family in a harmony of diversity.”

Unfortunately, much of the violence and terrorism unfolding in the world have made people suspicious or critical of religion, he said.

However, “although no religion is immune from the risk of fundamentalist or extremist deviations,” he said, people must look at the positive aspects of religious beliefs, especially how they are a source of hope for so many.

Pope Francis said respectful dialogue can lead to friendship and concrete initiatives between religious believers in serving the poor, the elderly, the marginalized and immigrants.

In fact, the upcoming Year of Mercy is the perfect occasion to work together on charitable projects, he said.

Charity, “where compassion especially counts, can unite with us many people who do not consider themselves to be believers or who are seeking God and truth,” and with anyone who makes those in need a priority, he said.

The pope also praised the profound improvements in Jewish-Christian relations. He said the past 50 years have seen indifference and conflict turn into collaboration and goodwill, and enemies and strangers have become friends and family.

Mutual understanding, respect and esteem make up the only path for fruitful dialogue, not only with Jews, but with Muslims as well, he said.

“The dialogue we need has to be open and respectful,” he said, and includes respecting people’s right to life, physical integrity and fundamental freedoms like freedom of conscience, thought, expression and religion.

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Among Assisi participants, a sense of wider crisis in society

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Catholic News Service

ASSISI, Italy — A common thread ran through many of the speeches and invocations of this year’s “prayer for peace” encounter in Assisi: the uneasy sense that the world is facing not merely conflicts and wars, but a much broader crisis that affects social and cultural life in every country.

Environmental damage, the rich-poor divide, erosion of cultural traditions, terrorism and new threats to society’s weakest members were cited as increasingly worrisome developments by speakers at the interfaith gathering in the Italian pilgrimage town Oct. 27.

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Pope condemns use of religion to promote violence

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Catholic News Service

ASSISI, Italy — Taking 300 religious leaders with him on pilgrimage to Assisi, Pope Benedict XVI said people who are suspicious of religion cannot be blamed for questioning God’s existence when they see believers use religion to justify violence.

“All their struggling and questioning is, in part, an appeal to believers to purify their faith so that God, the true God, becomes accessible,” the pope said Oct. 27 during an interfaith gathering in the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels.

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Pope prays Assisi pilgrimage will foster dialogue, peace

October 26th, 2011 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI prayed that his interreligious pilgrimage to Assisi Oct. 27 would promote dialogue among believers of different faiths and help the world move toward peace and reconciliation.

“In a world still torn by hatred, divisions, selfishness and wars, we want to pray that tomorrow’s meeting in Assisi would promote dialogue among people of different religions,” the pope said Oct. 26 during a prayer service at the Vatican.

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