The Holy See Press Office today published the following communique:
“On 1 January 2011, after the Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he wished to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the historic meeting that took place in Assisi on 27 October 1986, at the wish of the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II. On the day of the anniversary, 27 October this year, the Holy Father intends to hold a ‘Day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world’, making a pilgrimage to the home of St. Francis and inviting fellow Christians from different denominations, representatives of the world’s religious traditions and, in some sense, all men and women of good will, to join him once again on this journey.
“The Day will take as its theme: ‘Pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace’. Every human being is ultimately a pilgrim in search of truth and goodness. Believers too are constantly journeying towards God: hence the possibility, indeed the necessity, of speaking and entering into dialogue with everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, without sacrificing one’s own identity or indulging in forms of syncretism. To the extent that the pilgrimage of truth is authentically lived, it opens the path to dialogue with the other, it excludes no-one and it commits everyone to be a builder of fraternity and peace. These are the elements that the Holy Father wishes to place at the centre of reflection.
“For this reason, as well as representatives of Christian communities and of the principal religious traditions, some figures from the world of culture and science will be invited to share the journey – people who, while not professing to be religious, regard themselves as seekers of the truth and are conscious of a shared responsibility for the cause of justice and peace in this world of ours”.
The communique affirms that “the delegations will set off from Rome by train on the morning of 27 October, together with the Holy Father. Upon arrival in Assisi, they will make their way to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, where the previous meetings will be recalled and the theme of the Day will be explored in greater depth. Leaders of some of the delegations present will make speeches and the Holy Father will likewise deliver an address”.
There will then be a simple lunch, followed by a moment of silence for individual reflection and prayer. Later, all those present in Assisi will make a “pilgrimage” to the Basilica of Saint Francis, “in silence, leaving room for personal meditation and prayer”. The final part of the Day will include “a solemn renewal of the joint commitment to peace”.
“In preparation for this Day, Pope Benedict XVI will preside over a prayer vigil at St. Peter’s the previous evening, together with the faithful of the diocese of Rome. Particular Churches and communities throughout the world are invited to organise similar times of prayer”.
The communique concludes by highlighting that “the Pope asks the Catholic faithful to join him in praying for the celebration of this important event and he is grateful to all those who will be able to be present in St. Francis’ home town to share this spiritual pilgrimage”.