October 27, 2011. (Romereports.com)
After traveling by train for just over an hour and half, the pope arrived to the city of Assisi for the inter-religious gathering. He boarded a small bus, along with other religious leaders, before arriving at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. There, the pope personally welcomed all participants at the entrance.
A choir of Franciscan friars sang throughout the greeting period.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, who serves as the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is one of the main organizers. He showed a video that honored the first inter-religious gathering in 1986.
The pope condemned the use of religion as a tool for violence. He also talked about regret.
"As a Christian I want to say at this point; yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith. We acknowledge it with great shame.”
The pope called for the reconciliation between countries that share a troubled past. He then denounced religious terrorism, by saying that religion should never be used as a way to justify violence. Above all, he called for peace.
“It's a case of being together on a journey towards truth, a case of taking a decisive stand for human dignity and a case of common engagement for peace against every form of destructive force. Finally I would like to assure you that the Catholic church will not let up in her fight against violence, in her commitment for peace in the world. We are animated by the common desire to be “pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace.”
Leaders of other religions also spoke, including the leader of the Orthodox Church, Bartholomew I.
Patriarch Bartholomew I
“Our dialogue is one of reconciliation. We all recognize this expression of the Beatitudes: 'Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God.'”
The primate of the Anglican Church, Rowan Williams talked about the power of having a strong relationship with God.
“We are here today to declare our will, our passionate determination to persuade our world that human beings do not have to be strangers, and that recognition is as possible as it is necessary because of our universal relation to God.”
Jewish and Muslim representatives also spoke. Rabbi David Rosen who represents the Jewish community in the U.S talked about a commitment toward peace. Muslim representative Muzadi, talked about the purpose or religion.
Rabbi David Rosen
“May this gathering today, reinvigorate all men and women of faith and goodwill to rebound our efforts to make this goal a reality, the reality that brings true blessing and healing to humanity.”
Dr. Kay Haji Hasyim Muzadi
“Supposedly, the essence and objectives of the presence of religions on this earth is to strengthen the values and dignity of humanity, peace and world progress because it is intended to enlighten humanity and not do the opposite.”
The gathering in Assisi, does not include common prayer for all religious leaders. Rather, there will be a time set aside for personal reflection and prayer.