Assisi 2011, Pope Benedict : that peace reign in the world
Pope Benedict XVI's weekly General Audience this Wednesday had a special character:
that of a prayer meeting in preparation for Thursday’s Day of Reflection and Prayer
for Peace in Assisi. Inclement weather drove pilgrims inside for the prayer encounter,
filling the Paul VI audience hall to capacity, with participants who could not be
accommodated in the hall present in St Peter’s Basilica.
The Holy Father greeted
the overflow pilgrims in the Basilica in several languages, including English: “I
am pleased to receive you in Saint Peter’s Basilica and to extend a warm welcome to
all of you who could not be accommodated in the Audience Hall. Always stay faithfully
united to Christ and bear joyful witness to the Gospel. To all of you I cordially
impart my Blessing”.
The Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Agostino Vallini presented
the pilgrims, praising the Holy Father for his constant commitment, in the Name of
God, to building bridges of friendship among peoples, cultures and states, healing
the wounds of division and promoting reconciliation and concord.
said Cardinal Vallini, “all the people taking part desire to make themselves ‘pilgrims
of truth, pilgrims of peace’.”
The readings, from the Book of the Prophet Zechariah
and from the Gospel according to St Luke, as well as the responsorial psalm – taken
from Psalm 84, each spoke in its own way of true peace as a gift of the True God,
whose saving action has signed human history indelibly.
In his homily, Pope
Benedict XVI said the Kingdom of Peace in which Christ is the king. “It is,” he said,
“a realm that extends across the whole Earth.”
“Dear brothers and sisters,”
said Pope Benedict: “[A]s Christians we want to ask God for the gift of peace, we
pray that He make us instruments of peace in a world still torn by hatred, by divisions,
by selfishness, by war. We ask that the meeting Thursday in Assisi might encourage
dialogue among people of different religious affiliations and bring a ray of light
that might illuminate the minds and hearts of all men, so that rancor will give way
to pardon, division to reconciliation, hatred and violence to love and gentleness:
that peace reign in the world”.
The Holy Father also had English greetings
for pilgrims in Paul VI Hall: “I am happy to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims
and visitors here today. I ask you to accompany me in prayer as I journey tomorrow
to Assisi for the celebration of the Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace
and Justice in the World, together with representatives of different religions. I
extend special greetings to the pilgrims from the Diocese of Niigata in Japan celebrating
their centenary. I also welcome those present from England, Denmark, Indonesia, the
Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam and the United States. May Almighty God bless all