Oct. 27 set as date of Assisi gathering for world peace

.- Pope Benedict XVI will call people of goodwill to join him in working for peace during a "day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world" to be held in Assisi on Oct. 27.

At the start of the year, the Pope announced his plans to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul's World Day of Prayer from Peace.

The Vatican announced April 2 that it will take place on the exact anniversary of the original event in 1986.

"Pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace" is the theme of the encounter to which the Vatican will invite people of good will of all major creeds and none at all to take part.

"Every human being is ultimately a pilgrim in search of truth and goodness. Believers too are constantly journeying towards God: hence the possibility, indeed the necessity, of speaking and entering into dialogue with everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, without sacrificing one’s own identity or indulging in forms of syncretism," said the Vatican.

John Paul II's event came under fire for seemingly promoting a united prayer from participants, which critics have said gave mixed signals to the world, blurring the lines between one religion and another. According to the Vatican’s April 2 communique, Pope Benedict’s gathering will not feature communal prayer as part of the agenda.

The Vatican said in the same statement that the event can be thought of as a pilgrimage for truth that will open a dialogue without excluding certain groups, committing all to fraternity and peace.

For this reason, explained the Vatican, "seekers of truth" who are conscious of a shared responsibility for justice and peace but do not belong to any religion will also be invited.

Participants will travel by train from Rome to Assisi on the morning of the event.

Following a shared lunch and a period of silence for individual reflection and prayer, the group will make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of St. Francis.

Every moment will focus around the contemplation of peace.

The final moment of the day will be a shared and solemn renewal of the delegates' joint commitment to peace.

To prepare for the event, the Pope will lead a prayer vigil at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome on the evening of Oct. 26. Church communities are invited to organize simultaneous events to pray for its success.

According to the statement, "the Pope asks the Catholic faithful to join him in praying for the celebration of this important event and he is grateful to all those who will be able to be present in Saint Francis’ home town to share this spiritual pilgrimage."

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