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To My Dear Brother
President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

I have learned that the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I, has taken the initiative of convoking an interreligous meeting in Brussels on 19 and 20 December 2001, on the theme:  The Peace of God in the World. This initiative, which also benefits from the support of Prof. Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, is intended as an encouragement to peaceful coexistence and collaboration among the great monotheistic religions in Europe.

I offer you my very best wishes for this meeting and ask you to convey my fraternal greetings to His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch and to all the participants and, especially, to assure them of my fervent prayers, imploring the Almighty to accept this attestation of good will and to grant us ever new energy in our search for peace.

My most heartfelt wish is that the Brussels meeting may inspire serene reflections and actions to encourage "a far-reaching resurgence of the human spirit in individual hearts and in relations between the peoples of the world" (Message for the World Day of Peace 2002, n. 10).

While I am deeply distressed by the tragic circumstances that have regularly affected individuals and peoples and are now darkening the world scene, I continue to be motivated by great hope.

This is why I have once again addressed an appeal to the leaders of the different religions, asking them to join me on 24 January next in Assisi to implore God for peace. I therefore wholeheartedly join His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch and all the distinguished representatives who have gathered in Brussels for the meeting The Peace of God in the World. Only if we join forces and raise a continuous prayer to the Most High will we obtain the gift of peace. Only if we seek mutual forgiveness with the determination to establish justice will we achieve peace and make the sacred nature of man and his dignity shine out.

I rejoice, Your Eminence, in your presence and that of Cardinal Francis Arinze at the meeting convoked in Brussels by my Brother, His Holiness Bartholomew I, and I am convinced that the participation of the Catholic Church and of other religious leaders will be an opportunity to tell the world that we all hope to be docile to the Almighty, so that he may make us artisans of peace.

From the Vatican, 17 December 2001.



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