Date set for Assisi peace gathering…with one important change

News out of the Vatican over the weekend:

Pope Benedict XVI will call people of goodwill to join him in working for peace during a “day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world” to be held in Assisi on Oct. 27.

At the start of the year, the Pope announced his plans to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul’s World Day of Prayer [for] Peace.

The Vatican announced April 2 that it will take place on the exact anniversary of the original event in 1986.

“Pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace” is the theme of the encounter to which the Vatican will invite people of good will of all major creeds and none at all to take part.

But there will be one important difference between the gathering this October and the meeting held 25 years ago:

John Paul II’s event came under fire for seemingly promoting a united prayer from participants, which critics have said gave mixed signals to the world, blurring the lines between one religion and another. According to the Vatican’s April 2 communique, Pope Benedict’s gathering will not feature communal prayer as part of the agenda.

Some thought that the gestures of goodwill at the first meeting may have gone a bit too far; as Deacon Greg Kandra notes, then-Cardinal Ratzinger was conspicuously absent from that gathering, leading some to speculate that he himself was concerned about some of the proceedings.

What’s more, schismatic traditionalist groups like the Society of St. Pius X have repeatedly pointed to the original Assisi meeting as evidence of Vatican II run amok. Just in February, Bishop Bernard Fellay cited the upcoming meeting this October as one of the reasons why talks were breaking down between the Vatican and the schismatic group.

But now, with the main point of contention removed — i.e., the interreligious prayer service — there’s little to object to in the gathering. It will be interesting to see how the SSPX leaders respond, now that their main objection no longer holds water.

Margaret Cabaniss


Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at

  • Dale Price

    The “no communal prayer” idea is a great improvement. More in the keeping with St. Francis, too. He was happy for the opportunity to talk to the Sultan about the Gospel, but he didn’t pray with him.

  • Bill Bannon

    is really then a series of talks and that could be good vis a vis Saint Benedict’s insight in his rule that Abbots must listen to the least of the monks because God may use the least person as a vehicle of His message. So Benedict should be listening to those at the meeting with the least apparent importance. He should stay silent himself since this year he was on the NY Times bestseller’s list despite one of our priest bloggers continually calling the NY Times ” hell’s bible”…so that should satiate any ego needs of Benedict even though on closer inspection, he is this week being beaten by Sammy Hagar’s book on his rise to front man for Van Halen…. and by others like George W Bush….while Benedict is two ahead of a biography of Cleopatra.
    In short the bestseller list may have only been a passing thrill….a “Monet”….looks good further away. In any event I think Benedict will use the day to listen… his namesake saint urged. But he must listen to the least….not based on ranking in their hierarchies…..Aquinas had no jurisdictional rank and was our best author in that Augustine lacked clarity and caused a few problems.
    I will not be answering retorts to that last crack….I’m actually working today sanding a ceiling whose cracks I spackled yesterday.
    Aquinas: ” manual labor atones for sin.”
    Me: ” Manual Labor….isn’t he living in Tierra del Fuego now?”

  • Mary Beth Russi

    It amazes me that all faithful Catholics (not just the Pius X Society and whichever schismatics you’re referring to)didn’t (don’t)strongly object to the awful things that occurred at Assisi. During Assisi 2002, John Paul provided places in the very Convent of Saint Francis for the practitioners of

  • Kathryn

    Certainly hope you are not trying to sand off paint from the early to mid-70s (and then repaint over it) as well!

    On the other hand, if you are, you will have a much, m-u-c-h shorter stay in Purgatory than you might otherwise have.

  • Kathryn

    Hmmm…that last sentence didn’t quite come out right. Let’s just say that sanding and trying to paint over 70s paint is very, very penitential labor and has got to be worth several points in Saint Peter’s book on who gets into Heaven when.

  • Bill Bannon

    total particle storm…..spackle dust everywhere….yes will paint over old which I sanded too because slight gloss; but pausing for taxes due in US April 15.

  • Kathryn

    Best of luck. Let me know how it goes after tax season.

  • Kathryn

    I am very sympathetic to Mary Beth’s observations. It sounds like the nice idea, but I don’t think it is a good idea for the Vicar of Christ to be inviting people to a peace/prayer gathering without the expectation that those participants won’t be getting a “Come to Christ and know real peace” talk.

    My kids are involved in a basketball program run by a local Baptist Church. Bible verses every week are to be memorized and little prizes are given out to the children who do. During half time of every game is a witness talk about the need to come to Christ and invatation to “let Christ into your heart.”

    I admire the faith these people have. I am not entirely sure out leaders have the same level of conviction, however, and whenever I hear them tell us that we laypeople need to get out an Tell the Good News, I cringe, as I don’t see them drawing a land in the sand.

  • Mark

    Every human being is made in the image and likeness of God. Every person is seeking God. As Catholics, our mission is to reach out to every person. God wants all to be saved. JP II was using Assisi as a forum to reach out to people of good will throughout the world. I have news for you. Some of those pilgrims of truth will be in heaven and some Catholics won’t be. God judges us based on our heart. JPII was seeking people of righteousness in his role of the rock. The Pope is responsible for the spiritual needs of every person in the world not just the Catholics. To criticize him for that event, speaks to the judgmental approach of too many ‘pious’ people who act more like the Jewish leaders of Jesus time on earth. There will be more than Catholics up in heaven. Look at CCC paragraph 1260 “”Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.”63 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.”