VATICAN: POPE INVITES LEADERS TO GATHER FOR WORLD PEACE
Radio Vaticana report:
Pope Benedict XVI condemned anti-Christian violence, persecution and discrimination, along with all religious intolerance, in a New Year's appeal that came just hours after a bomb exploded outside a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt as worshippers left Mass, killing more than 20 people.
In addition to appeals to political leaders to take concrete steps to end religious discrimination, the Holy Father issued an invitation to leaders of all the world’s religions to meet with him in Assisi this coming October to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1stWorld Day of Prayer for Peace.
In his homily during Mass to mark the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and again in remarks at the Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI condemned all manner of religious intolerance, and especially anti-Christian prejudice, while pointing to authentic religious freedom as the essential core of ordered liberty.
It was during his Angelus that the Holy Father announced plans for this October to host a gathering of religious leaders in Assisi to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1st such gathering in the city of St. Francis, and to rededicate themselves to the cause of peace – a cause to which he asked all Christians to dedicate themselves with an increase of prayerful devotion:
“On this day, too, we pray especially for peace throughout the world, and I invite all of you to join in heartfelt prayer to Christ the Prince of Peace for an end to violence and conflict wherever they are found.”
In his homily at St. Peter's Basilica, the Pope exhorted all the Christian faithful to remain strong in the face of discrimination and intolerance, calling on world leaders to make a “concrete and constant commitment” to help guarantee authentic religious freedom, and stressing once again as he had in his Peace Day message, that religious freedom is the essential element of the rule of law. “you cannot deny it,” he said, “without, at the same time, undermining all rights and fundamental freedoms.”