Thursday, October 6, 2011


Focolare is a movement in the Catholic Church dedicated to living lives in community and fostering ecumenical and inter-religious understanding. Their current president, Maria Voce, has been writing and speaking about the upcoming “Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World: Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace.” This day, called by Pope Benedict XVI, will be held in Assisi on 27 October, and it will also be the 25th anniversary of the first such event (also held in Assisi)—in 1986, in answer to the call of Pope John Paul II. He called another such gathering in 2002.

Is this “syncretism”? Is this “relativism”? These are dirty words that imply we can all gather together because one belief system is just as good as another, or because we don’t believe there is any such thing as objective truth which can in any way be known. This is not what these gatherings are about. It is a recognition that on the basis of natural law and our common humanity and our shared conviction in the reality of a Deity, there must be (even if only for reasons of simple self-preservation) a concentrated effort to end the violence and the injustices that plague our world. It makes sense for religious leaders to stand together in such a path: would a Greek be more likely to listen to a word of peace from a Hindu priest or from Patriarch Bartholomew? Would a Muslim be as open to such a word from Pope Benedict as he would from an imam?

If you truly think of the words, there is little in the famous “Peace Prayer” of St Francis (other than, perhaps, the hope to be “born to eternal life”) that the leader of any world religion could not recite with integrity. What a joy it would be if we could all put those words into practice in our daily lives!  If there is ever to be peace on earth, I will have to "let it begin with me"...

This event will not be strictly only ecumenical (a word reserved for dialogue and the search for reconciliation and agreement between different Churches and Christian denominations). This gathering will also be inter-religious, and there will be leaders from many world religions: all with a longing to contribute in some concrete way to world peace and justice from their own unique faith-based perspectives.

No comments:

Post a Comment