· In Assisi Pope Francis invites men and women of good will around the world to prayer and penance ·
Pope Francis was in Assisi for the Day of Prayer for Peace with religious leaders from around the world, an event which took place 30 years after the historic meeting convoked by John Paul II on 27 October, 1986, in the city of St Francis. The Pope arrived by helicopter to Santa Maria degli Angeli on Tuesday morning, 20 September. He then travelled to the sacred monastery, where he joined numerous representatives from various Churches, denominations and religions, who were gathered together from around the world to participate in the meeting entitled: “Thirst for Peace: Religions and Cultures in Dialogue”, which opened on Sunday, 18 September. After individually greeting the participants, the Pope had lunch with them, as well as with a group of refugees from countries that are experiencing tragedies of war.
At the Mass he celebrated that morning in the Chapel of Santa Marta, before leaving the Vatican for Assisi, the Pope referred to the crisis of these “lands where bombs are falling day and night” and where “children, elderly people, men and women, are being killed”. “We cannot close our ears to the painful cry of our brothers and sisters who are suffering”, he urged, noting that the war, though physically distant from our lands, is still “very close” because it “touches everyone”, starting with “the heart”.
This is why “we must pray for peace today”: not in order “to make a show”, Francis said, but to live a “day of prayer, penance and tears”, a day “to hear the cry of the poor”. God is indeed “a God of peace”, Francis affirmed, “there is no god of war: what creates war is evil, it is the devil, who wants to kill everyone”. For this reason, “today the world will have its centre in Assisi”, and “the whole world will pray for peace”, the Pontiff said, suggesting that everyone dedicate “a bit of time” to prayer and reflection.
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