Religious Leaders to mark 25th anniversary of Assisi meeting

To mark the 25th anniversary of Assisi meeting with religious leaders, called by Blessed John Paul II in 1986, Pope Benedict XVI has convoked a new gathering in the Italian town Oct. 27.

Benedict and representatives of the world’s major religions will make speeches and sign a common commitment to peace when they meet in Assisi in October, but they will not pray together, the Vatican said.

In fact, Pope Benedict’s formal prayer service will be held at the Vatican the evening before the encounter Oct. 27 in Assisi with leaders of other Christian communities and representatives of the world’s main religions.

The 1986 event was seen by many as a milestone in interreligious relations but was criticized by some Catholics who said it appeared to inappropriately mix elements from Christian and non-Christian religions.

The Vatican press office issued a statement April 2 giving the theme for the 2011 event — “Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace” –– and a general outline of events.

“Every human being is ultimately a pilgrim in search of truth and goodness,” the Vatican statement said.

The search requires people to enter into dialogue with others, “believers and unbelievers alike, without sacrificing one’s own identity or indulging in forms of syncretism” where elements of different religions are used indiscriminately, the statement said.

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