Pope To Hold Peace Summit With Religious Heads
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POPE TO HOLD PEACE SUMMIT WITH RELIGIOUS HEADS
By Philip Pullella
January 1, 2011
VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict, worried over increasing inter-religious
violence, will host a summit of world religious leaders in Assisi in October
to discuss how they can better promote peace, he announced on Saturday.
Benedict told pilgrims and tourists in St Peter's Square the aim of the
meeting would be to "solemnly renew the commitment of believers of every
religion to live their own religious faith in the service of the cause for
He made the announcement hours after a bomb killed at least 17 people in a
church in Egypt in the latest attack on Christians in the Middle East and
The Assisi meeting will take place on the 25th anniversary of a similar
encounter hosted by the late Pope John Paul in 1986 in the birthplace of St
That meeting was attended by Muslim and Jewish leaders and heads of many
other religions, including the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan
Buddhists, and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
John Paul called on all nations and groups in conflict to silence their
weapons during the meeting. Most groups adhered.
A main theme of the 1986 summit was the public repudiation of the concept of
violence in the name of God.
"Humanity ... cannot be allowed to become accustomed to discrimination,
injustices and religious intolerance, which today strike Christians in a
particular way," Pope Benedict said in his New Year's Day homily to 10,000
people in St Peter's Basilica on the day the Church marks its World Day of
"Once again, I make a pressing appeal (to Christians in troubled areas) not
to give in to discouragement and resignation," he said.
ATTACK ON CHRISTIANS
Hours earlier, in the northern Egyptian city of Alexandria, a bomb at a
Coptic Christian church killed at least 17 people and wounded 43 as
worshippers gathered to mark the New Year. The Egyptian interior ministry
said it may have been the work of a foreign-backed suicide bomber.
The attack in Muslim-majority Egypt was the latest against Christians that
has worried Church officials.
On Christmas Day, six people died in attacks on two Christian churches in
the northeast of Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, and six people were
injured by a bomb in a Roman Catholic Church on the island of Jolo in the
In a message issued last month for the Jan. 1 peace day, the pope said
Christians were the most persecuted religious group in the world today and
that it was unacceptable that in some places they had to risk their lives to
practise their faith.
In November, 52 hostages and police officers were killed when security
forces raided a Baghdad church to free more than 100 Iraqi Catholics
captured by al Qaeda-linked gunmen.
The Vatican fears that continuing attacks, combined with severe restrictions
on Christians in countries such as Saudi Arabia, are fuelling a Christian
exodus from the region.
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