ZENIT News Agency, The World Seen from Rome  

Peace Appeal Issued at Assisi Meeting of Prayer
"God Is Stronger Than Those Who Want War"

ASSISI, Italy, SEPT. 7, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Peace Appeal issued at the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace, held in Assisi on Monday and Tuesday. The appeal was signed by hundreds of representatives of various religions.

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Men and women of different religions, we gathered in Assisi, the city of Francis, the saint of peace, in a difficult time for our world, heavily burdened with tensions, conflicts and terrorist threats. We evoked the audacious and prophetic initiative of John Paul II in 1986, when the cold war was at its peak and he invited to Assisi the religious leaders of the world to pray for peace.

That was the beginning of a path of dialogue, prayer and peace, that has now led us back to Assisi. Along the way, it released energies of peace and sustained many people's hopes for a future of peace. During these days, we focused on our diverse religious traditions. In different ways they testify to a message of peace with ancient roots. We were joined in our dialogue by secular humanists, men and women. We lived a school of dialogue.

Today we have gathered in prayer according to our different religious traditions, believing in the value of invoking God for the construction of peace. We have shown that prayer does not divide, rather it unites: We have prayed one beside the other; we will never pray one against the other. We have turned our attention to many situations of conflict and sorrow, involving thousands of people, families, and entire populations. We shared their suffering. We do not want to forget them, nor accept their sorrows.

There are many problems in the world today. Yet, we do not surrender to the culture of conflict, that considers clashes the impending unavoidable fate of entire religious communities, cultures and civilizations. We are believers, men and women. We are not naive. The century that has gone by showed us that world wars, the Shoah, genocides of unimaginable proportions, mass oppression and totalitarian ideologies stole millions of human lives, and have not transformed the world as they had promised.

For this reason we say: Clashes are never an unavoidable fate, no war is ever natural. Peace is vital, even when it seems difficult or desperate to pursue. We want to help every man and every woman, those who have governmental responsibilities, to lift up their eyes, beyond pessimism, and discover that hope is at hand when we are capable of living the art of dialogue.

Religions accustom believers to accomplish those high values that many people consider hard to attain. We cannot give up reducing the abyss between rich and poor. We cannot give up seeking peace with all our efforts. Here, from the hill of Assisi, we communicate and offer our hope, asking believers in our communities to pray and work for peace. We believe in dialogue, patient, truthful and sensible: dialogue in search for peace but also dialogue to avoid the abyss that separate cultures and people and lead to severe conflicts. All of us, belonging to different religions, we affirmed the value of dialogue, of living in peace, and we practiced it in these days, in a spirit of friendship, as a model and an example for the believers in our communities.

War is not unavoidable. Religions never justify hatred and violence. Those using the name of God to destroy others move away from true religion. Those spreading terror, death and violence in the name of God must remember that peace is the name of God. God is stronger than those who want war, cultivate hatred, and live on violence. We hope for a world of peace. Nothing is lost through dialogue, everything is possible with peace! War never again. May God grant to the world the wonderful gift of peace!

Assisi, September 5, 2006

[Text adapted]

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To sign the appeal, see www.santegidio.org/en/ecumenismo/uer/2006/assisi/form_appel.htm