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'God's name is peace,' world religious leaders affirm at Assisi day of prayer

September 20, 2016

Pope Francis joined 400 religious leaders in an interfaith prayer service for peace at Assisi on September 20, marking the 30th anniversary of the historic event organized by St. John Paul II.

The event, organized by the St. Egidio community, drew together Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, and other religious leaders. Among the prominent participants joining the Pontiff were the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch Ignatius Ephrem II, and the Israeli Chief Rabbi David Rosen.

“We have come to Assisi as pilgrims in search of peace,” said Pope Francis in his address to the gathering. “We thirst for peace; we desire to witness to peace.” He said that in order to achieve peace, the world must “free ourselves from the heavy burdens of fundamentalism and hate.”

Patriarch Bartholomew placed a heavy emphasis on religious freedom and on respect for nature in his remarks. The Ecumenical Patriarch said:

There be peace without mutual respect and recognition, there cannot be peace without justice, there cannot be peace without fruitful cooperation between all peoples of the world. But peace also requires justice. Justice is a renewed global economy that is attentive to the needs of the poorest; it involves caring about the condition of our planet, the protection of our natural environment, which is God’s creation for believers but is everybody’s common home.

As the day’s events concluded, the religious leaders signed a statement that underlined the importance of dialogue and tolerance. “This is the spirit that animates us: to bring about encounters through dialogue and to oppose every form of violence and abuse of religion which seeks to justify war and terrorism,” they said.

“God’s name is peace,” the religious leaders affirmed. “War in the name of religion becomes a war against religion itself.”

Earlier in the day, celebrating Mass at the Vatican before his helicopter trip to Assisi, the Pope said that he had written to all the world’s bishops, asking them to join in the day’s prayers for peace. “There is no god of war,” he said; “it is evil. It is the devil that wages war and wants to kill everyone.”


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  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Sep. 20, 2016 6:34 PM ET USA

    I've always considered God's name to be "Love" or "Goodness",("Only God is Good" - Matt/Mark/Luke). "Peace" is too vague a term even by extension, especially when we talk about Muslims and their never ending paean about a peaceful religion when it simply means peace on their terms. God's Name is Love!