As mentioned yesterday, some are concerned about the risk of the appearance of syncretism at the forthcoming Assisi event.
Pope Benedict wishes to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first Assisi meeting held by Pope Blessed John Paul II that took place on 27th October 1986.
A bulletin from the Vatican Information Service of 2nd April this year outlines Pope Benedict's vision for this anniversary. It says:
Believers too are constantly journeying towards God: hence the possibility, indeed the necessity, of speaking and entering into dialogue with everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, without sacrificing one’s own identity or indulging in forms of syncretism. To the extent that the pilgrimage of truth is authentically lived, it opens the path to dialogue with the other, it excludes no one and it commits everyone to be a builder of fraternity and peace.It appears that there will no public recitation of prayers, no "ceremonies" but rather dialogue and moments for private prayer and reflection. Not only leaders/representatives of other religions but also people from the world of science and culture who might not profess any belief in God will be participating. Here is what is envisaged:
The image of pilgrimage therefore sums up the meaning of the event. There will be an opportunity to look back over the path already travelled from that first meeting in Assisi to the following one in January 2002, and also to look ahead to the future, with a view to continuing, in company with all men and women of good will, to walk along the path of dialogue and fraternity, in the context of a world in rapid transformation. Saint Francis, poor and humble, will once more welcome everyone to his home town, which has become a symbol of brotherhood and peace.To me this seems a most laudable project and deserving of our prayerful support.
The delegations will set off from Rome by train on the morning of 27 October, together with the Holy Father. Upon arrival in Assisi, they will make their way to the Basilica of S. Maria degli Angeli, where the previous meetings will be recalled and the theme of the Day will be explored in greater depth. Leaders of some of the delegations present will make speeches and the Holy Father will likewise deliver an address.
There will follow a simple lunch, shared by the delegates: a meal under the banner of sobriety, intended to express fraternal conviviality, and at the same time solidarity in the suffering of so many men and women who do not know peace. There will follow a period of silence for individual reflection and prayer. In the afternoon, all who are present in Assisi will make their way towards the Basilica of Saint Francis. It will be a pilgrimage in which, for the final stretch, the members of the delegations will also take part; it is intended to symbolize the journey of every human being who assiduously seeks the truth and actively builds justice and peace. It will take place in silence, leaving room for personal meditation and prayer. In the shadow of Saint Francis’ Basilica, where the previous meetings were also concluded, the final stage of the Day will include a solemn renewal of the joint commitment to peace.
In preparation for this Day, Pope Benedict XVI will preside over a Prayer Vigil at Saint Peter’s the previous evening, together with the faithful of the Diocese of Rome. Particular Churches and communities throughout the world are invited to organize similar times of prayer.