Vatican City, Oct 18, 2011 / 12:33 pm America/Denver (CNA).
The Oct. 27 gathering of religious leaders in Assisi to discuss global peace will include four leading atheists, but will not include any common prayer.
“The emphasis is on the pilgrimage not on praying together,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, at a Vatican press conference Oct. 18.
“It is an exercise of dialogue, and dialogue always respects the specific identity of the people, of individuals.”
The October 27 event in Assisi is entitled “Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace” and is being held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first World Day for Peace, begun by Pope John Paul II in 1986.
“The world today, as it did 25 years ago, needs peace,” said Cardinal Turkson adding that “following two and a half decades of collaboration and joint witness among religions it is time to assess the results and to re-launch our commitment in the face of new challenges.”
Today’s press conference confirmed that the only public prayer to mark the summit will be specifically Catholic in nature and will be led by Pope Benedict in St. Peter’s Square the evening before.
“The real prayer will be here at St. Peter’s on the vigil when the Holy Father is with the Catholic faithful,” said Cardinal Turkson.
The next day over 300 delegates from 50 countries will set off from the Vatican station on a specially charted train heading for the small Umbrian hill-town from where St. Francis hailed.
Upon arrival they will gather at the basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels where delegates will discuss the legacy of previous meetings as well as present challenges. They will also be addressed by Pope Benedict.