Bahai News - World's religious leaders join Pope in prayer for an end to terrorism
FRIDAY JANUARY 25 2002
World's religious leaders join Pope in prayer for an end to
FROM JOHN PHILLIPS IN ASSISI
BLACK-CLOAKED Muslim sheikhs, shaven-headed Buddhist monks and a
kaleidoscope of other religious leaders joined the Pope yesterday to
pray that their faiths never be used to justify a repetition of the
September 11 terrorist attacks. "We wish to do our part in fending off
the dark clouds of terrorism, hatred and armed conflict, which in these
past few months have grown particularly ominous on humanit'y horizons,"
Pope John Paul II, 81, told the throng of sages, including Sikhs, Bahais,
Hindus, Jains and Zoroastrians, gathered in an extraordinary pilgrimage
at Assisi, the birthplace of St Francis.
About 200 leaders from 12 religions, resplendent in a brilliant
display of turbans, caps and veils, travelled with the Pope to the
Umbrian hill town from the Vatican's rarely used railway station aboard
a special peace train.
Sheikh al-Azhar Mohammed Tantawi, the Sunni Muslim theologian widely
considered the highest doctrinal authority in the Islamic world, said
that he and his clerics "join with conviction to the call for peace,
immediately and inseparably bound to justice".
Franciscan monks took down crosses from the walls in a convent near
St Francis's tomb where several guests prayed separately after the
initial ceremony with the Pope.
In another unusual gesture, the leaders in Assisi included the Vicar
of Moscow, Bishop Pitrim, the highest ranking member of the Russian
Orthodox Church to attend any event organised by a Pope.
Vatican sources said that the Pope understood the absence of the
Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, who was unable to attend
because of a long-standing engagement to consecrate a bishop in America.
A personal message was read out by Dr Carey's representative in Rome,
Bishop Richard Garrard.
The Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Edward Egan, said that the event
was an attempt by the Pope to bring religious leaders together to
alert the world to the need to put an end to the conflict that is
troubling us right now. Coming from New York I am especially concerned.
Geshe Tashi Tsering, the Buddhist leader, wearing a crimson and
sapphire robe, sang a Buddhist chant and said: "May I become at all
times, both now and for ever, a protector for those without protection."
After a frugal lunch, the day ended with an assembly in which
representatives of each of the 12 religions present made a commitment to
©Copyright 2002, Times (London)
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