10/27/2011, 00.00
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Assisi 2011: 300 lights for peace and freedom

At the end of Assisi Day, each representative stated his decision and commitment in the square where the first meeting was held in 1986. Before the exchange of peace, Benedict XVI said, “Violence never again! War never again! Terrorism never again! In the name of God, may every religion bring upon the earth Justice and Peace, Forgiveness and Life, Love.”
Assisi (AsiaNews) – The Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World ended in the simplest and most poetic way, with an exchange of peace among participants. This was preceded by the lighting of small lamps that a group of young people handed out in silence to the 300 representatives who had come to Assisi on Benedict XVI’s invitation.

The Day ended in a square near St Francis’s basilica, where the 1986 edition had been celebrated. Unlike previous editions, there was no public prayer, either in group, separately or in sequence, but only minutes of silence before the lighting of the lamps, accompanied by the sound of harps. Every participant, as someone said, was able “to invoke the gift of peace or express hope for it in his or her innermost conscience.”

The lights are a token of the responsibility everyone undertook in front of the others and God. In introducing the sign of peace, Card Koch, head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said, “Let us become tools of the peace that comes from high above. Let us remember that there is no peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness. Let us seal with a gesture of peace among us the commitment to peace proclaimed by the many. Let us bring peace to those near us and those far from us, to all creatures and creation.”

When it was time to make the exchange of peace, Franciscan friars released dozens of white doves. Some alighted on the hands of a number of representatives.

Earlier, 12 representatives and one “truth seeker”, Prof Guillermo Hurtado from Mexico, reiterated their decision to be peacemakers. When each spoke, they began by saying, “We commit ourselves to [. . .] justice, respect among nations, a more humane technology, care for creation, uprooting terrorism, etc.”

Card Jean-Louis Tauran introduced the afternoon session. “Hope for peace,” he said, “has been reawakened in personal prayer and in listening to the testimonies. Each one of us, returning to his or her home, has at heart to be a witness and a messenger: peace is possible, even today!”

When it was the pope’s turn to speak, Benedict XVI said, “Violence never again! War never again! Terrorism never again! In the name of God, may every religion bring upon the earth Justice and Peace Forgiveness and Life, Love.”

At the end of the meeting, Benedict XVI and those who so chose visited the crypt to pray in front of St Francis’s tomb.
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