The Civilization of Peace
Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue
Cyprus 16-18 November 2008
inter-religious International Meetings started in the
mid-80’s, as an initiative of the Community of
Sant’Egidio, with the aim of promoting mutual understanding
and dialogue among religions, in a horizon of peace.
Community of Sant’Egidio has continued living the spirit of
the Assisi World Day of Prayer, proposed by John Paul II in
1986, by accepting the Pope’s final invitation of that
historical meeting: “Let’s keep spreading the message of
Peace and living the spirit of Assisi”. Since that moment,
through a network of friendship between representatives of
different faiths and cultures from more than 60 countries, the
Community has promoted a pilgrimage of peace, that has had
several stages in various European and Mediterranean cities
year after year.
two first meetings in Rome in 1987 and 1988, were followed by
Warsaw in September 1989 (“War never again”) - on the
occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of WWII
-, Bari in 1990, Malta in 1991, Brussels in 1992 (“Europe,
Religions, Peace”, about the unity of Europe and its
relation with the South of the world). In 1993 the pilgrimage
stopped in Milan and in the following years, in Assisi and
1995 meeting was a special one: it took place in Jerusalem, in
the heart of the Holy City. The title was “Together in
Jerusalem: Jews, Christians and Muslims”. After the Rome and
Padua-Venice meetings, came the extraordinary meeting in
Bucharest in 1988, “Peace is the name of God: God, Mankind,
Peoples”. For the first time, the meeting was organized by
the Community and the Orthodox Church of Romania.
The presence of several Orthodox patriarchs and cardinals, and
mainly the new atmosphere of dialogue opened the way for the
first visit of the Pope to an Orthodox country, which took
place some months later.
John Paul II, in the message he sent last year to the XIV
Meeting for Peace, Community of Sant’Egidio in Lisbon, said:
“I would like to thank especially the Community of
Sant’Egidio for the enthusiasm and the spiritual courage
shown in accepting the message of Assisi and bringing it to so
many places in the world through the meeting of men of
year, the first year of the new century, the International
Meeting for Peace takes place on the banks of the
Mediterranean. Barcelona, deeply rooted in the history of
co-existence among the great Abrahamic religions, but at the
same time pointing to the new century, with its capacity of
renewal, is for three days the capital of peace and the symbol
of the new European reality.
John Paul II writes in “Novo Millenio ineunte”: “... we
face the challenge of inter-religious dialogue, to which we
will be committed in the new century (...) Dialogue must go
on”. To reaffirm in different languages and religious
traditions the pacific power of dialogue, from 2nd to 4th of
September in Barcelona, on the fifteenth anniversary of the
first Meeting in Assisi, pilgrims of peace are going to live
together “On the Frontiers of Dialogue: Religions and
Civilization in the New Century”.
In 2007 in Naples pope Benedict XVI confirmed: "While respecting the differences of the various religions, we are all called to work for peace and to be effectively committed to furthering reconciliation among peoples. This is the true "spirit of Assisi" which opposes every form of violence and the abuse of religion as a pretext for violence (...) The Catholic Church intends to continue on the path of dialogue in order to encourage understanding between the different cultures, traditions and forms of religious wisdom."