ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS
I welcome you this morning to the Apostolic Palace and I thank you once more for your willingness to take part in the day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for justice and peace in the world held yesterday in Assisi, twenty-five years after that historic first meeting.
In a certain sense, this gathering is representative of the billions of men and women throughout our world who are actively engaged in promoting justice and peace. It is also a sign of the friendship and fraternity which has flourished as the fruit of the efforts of so many pioneers in this kind of dialogue. May this friendship continue to grow among all the followers of the world’s religions and with men and women of good will everywhere.
I thank my Christian brothers and sisters for their fraternal presence. I also thank the representatives of the Jewish people, who are particularly close to us, and all of you, the distinguished representatives of the world’s religions. I am aware that many of you have come from afar and have undertaken a demanding journey. I express my gratitude also to those who represent people of good will who follow no religious tradition but are committed to the search for truth. They have been willing to share this pilgrimage with us as a sign of their desire to work together to build a better world.
Looking back, we can appreciate the foresight of the late Pope John Paul II in convening the first Assisi meeting, and the continuing need for men and women of different religions to testify together that the journey of the spirit is always a journey of peace.
Meetings of this sort are necessarily exceptional and infrequent, yet they are a vivid expression of the fact that every day, throughout our world, people of different religious traditions live and work together in harmony. It is surely significant for the cause of peace that so many men and women, inspired by their deepest convictions, are committed to working for the good of the human family.
In this way, I am sure that yesterday’s meeting has given us a sense of how genuine is our desire to contribute to the good of all our fellow human beings and how much we have to share with one another.
As we go our separate ways, let us draw strength from this experience and, wherever we may be, let us continue refreshed on the journey that leads to truth, the pilgrimage that leads to peace. I thank all of you from my heart!
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