Assisi (AsiaNews) – A “pressing and urgent appeal” for “an end to all armed conflicts which bloody the earth; for weapons to be silenced and for hate to give way to love, offence to forgiveness and discord to unity”, was launched today by Benedict XVI at the end of mass celebrated in the square in front of the inferior basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi.
“We feel the spiritual presence – added the pontiff – of all those who are crying, who are suffering and who are dying because of war and its tragic consequences, all over the world. Our thoughts turn in particular to the Holy Land, much loved by Saint Francis, to Iraq, Lebanon, the entire Middle East. The people of those lands have known, for far too long, the horror of conflict, of terrorism, of blind violence, the illusion that brut force can resolve unrest, the refusal to listen to the other sides reasoning and to render justice. Responsible and sincere dialogue alone, sustained by the generous support of the International Community can put an end to so much pain and give new life and dignity to these peoples, institutions and nations”.
The pontiff had wanted to take part in the pilgrimage to Assisi to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the conversion of Saint Francis “who after twenty five years of a mediocre and dream filled life, marked by the pursuit of mundane joys and success, opened himself to grace, sought within himself and gradually came to recognise in Christ his life’s ideal”. Thanks to Francis’ testimony, Assisi has become “known throughout the world, a true ‘place of the soul’” and the “city of peace”.
Before the appeal Benedict XVI recalled and greeted the “representatives of the other Christian confessions and great religions who, in 1986 accepted the invitation extended by my predecessor to experience here, in the homeland of Saint Francis, a World Day of Prayer for Peace”.
The pontiff concluded his appeal by inviting each person to become an instrument of peace: “May Saint Francis, man of peace, obtain from the Lord an ever increasing number of people who accept to make themselves “instruments of peace”, through thousands of small daily gestures; that those who have roles of responsibility are animated by a passionate love for peace and by an unshakable will to reach it, choosing the most just of methods to obtain it. May the Blessed Virgin, whom the poor man of Assisi loved with great tenderness and who he lauded with inspired songs, help us to discover the secret of peace and the miracle of love which came to be in her womb, with the incarnation of the Son of God”. (BC)