‘The Assisi Event’ – 25 Years on:
In October 1986 Pope John Paul called together the leaders of the world’s religions for a gathering in Assisi to pray for peace. Pope Benedict has asked that the 25th anniversary of this event, unique in world history, should be marked in a special way.
The Franciscan Family is discussing how best to comemorate the anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace, held in Assisi on 27 October 1986. Building on this celebration, John Paul II made popular the idea of the Spirit of Assisi, a concept which has inspired many efforts to promote peace and dialogue over the last quarter century.
Franciscans want to reinforce our commitment to peace and dialogue by encouraging the entire Franciscan Family to celebrate this important anniversary. We Franciscans recognize that the world has changed much over the last 25 years. Our engagement in various dimensions of dialogue with peoples of other religious traditions continues to be informed by our fidelity to preaching the Good News proclaimed by Jesus Christ.
At the same time, new conditions have emerged that threaten the unity of the human race, its well-being, and its very existence. They challenge the ability of the Church and of our Franciscan family to be effective signs of unity. Major movements of peoples across traditional geographical boundaries give rise to conflicts and threaten the stability of societies. These movements put increased pressure on the global environment and growing poverty exacerbates all of these conditions. There is an increasing sense of urgency that new pathways for intercultural dialogue be created or existing ones be strengthened in order to promote peace, reconciliation, care for creation, and integral human development, especially for those who are impoverished.
The entire Franciscan Family has been invited to prepare to celebrate this important anniversary. Many communities have been promoting annual remembrances of this event for years. This year plans are underway to celebration of this event throughout our Franciscan world. This includes invitating local artists to create original pieces on the theme of dialogue for peace. These works will hopefully inspire everyone to reflect on the issues we face in our world today, and to look for ways to advance intercultural dialogue as a means to address them.
The legacy of Francis and Clare led the Holy Father to choose Assisi as the venue for the original event which has come to be known as the Spirit of Assisi. Our prayer is that during the celebration of this anniversary Franciscans might be inspired to renew the spirit of our Holy Founders, leading us to heal the wounds that afflict our world today. May the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Spirit of Assisi help us revitalize our life and our ministry. Like Francis and Clare, we seek to offer vibrant witness and service in the construction of a world that is more just and more peaceful.
See website dedicated to the celebration: Spirit of Assisi