By Vatican News staff writer
The seeds of the spirit of Assisi were planted on 27 October 1986 by Pope Saint John Paul II when he invited leaders of other religions to join him in prayer for peace for the human family.
The Cold War hadn’t ended yet, civil wars were raging in Mozambique, Sri Lanka and Guatemala, Eritrea was fighting for independence and the US bombed Libya in a retaliation attack while Zimbabwe’s national army massacred thousands of ethnic Ndebele civilians.
So many of God’s children were suffering because of violence across the globe, but St John Paul II was convinced that peace is holy and that at the heart of every religious tradition is the search for peace and that “Peace is a building site that is open to everyone.”
Pope Francis has embraced this strong an unequivocal message and joins, yet again, with leaders of the world’s major religions to pray for peace at a time in which humanity is suffering wars, displacement caused by conflict and climate change, increasing poverty and division, and a global pandemic that has highlighted the vulnerability of every single one of us and our need for each other.
An ecumenical prayer service in Rome’s Basilica of Saint Mary in Aracoeli saw the Pope praying side by side with leaders of other Christian traditions.
Simultaneously, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists prayed in other city venues before coming together in Michelangelos’ beautiful Square on the Capitoline Hill for an interreligious ceremony that will end with the proclamation and delivery of the 2020 Appeal for Peace and the lighting of a peace candle.
A minute of silence will be observed to remember the victims of wars and of the coronavirus pandemic, and a group of children will deliver the appeal to ambassadors and to international political leaders reminding them that “no one is saved alone.”