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Monday, October 22, 2007


VATICAN CITY, OCT 22, 2007 (VIS) - At 1 p.m. today, in the great hall of the archiepiscopal seminary of Capodimonte in Naples, Benedict XVI met with the heads of the delegations participating in the 21st International Meeting for Peace, an annual initiative promoted by the Sant'Egidio Community which has as its theme this year: "A world without violence, faiths and cultures in dialogue."

  "What you represent," said the Pope in his address, "in a certain sense expresses the different worlds and religious heritages of humanity, to which the Catholic Church looks with sincere respect and cordial attention."

  "The current meeting takes us back in our minds to 1986 when ... John Paul II invited high-level religious representatives to the town of St. Francis in order to pray for peace, underlining on that occasion the intrinsic link uniting authentic religious attitudes with this fundamental good for humanity," said the Holy Father. He also recalled how in 2002, following the attack against the World Trade Center in New York of September 11, 2001, John Paul II again invited religious leaders to Assisi "to ask God to put an end to the grave perils threatening humanity, especially because of terrorism.

  "While respecting the differences of the various religions," Benedict XVI added, "we are called to work for peace, and to an effective commitment to promote reconciliation between peoples. This is the true 'spirit of Assisi' which is opposed to all forms of violence and to all abuses of religion as a pretext for violence. Faced with a world riven by conflict, where sometime violence is justified in the name of God, it is important to reiterate that religions can never become vehicles of hatred, that never by invoking the name of God can evil and violence be justified.

  "Quite the contrary, religions can and must offer valuable resources for the creation of a peaceful humanity, because they speak to man's heart of peace. The Catholic Church intends to continue down the path of dialogue in order to favor understanding between religious cultures, traditions and wisdom. It is my heartfelt hope that this spirit may become ever more widespread, especially where tensions are strongest, where freedom and respect for others are denied, and men and women suffer the consequences of intolerance and incomprehension."

  After the meeting, the Holy Father had lunch with cardinals and bishops of the Campania region of Italy, who are participating in the International Meeting for Peace, and, at 4 p.m., travelled to the cathedral of Naples where he prayed before the Blessed Sacrament and venerated the relics of Naples' patron saint, St Gennaro.

  At 5.30 p.m. Benedict XVI boarded his helicopter bound for the Vatican, where he arrived at 6.30 p.m.

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