[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew joined Pope Francis in Assisi yesterday (Tuesday) to lead an assembly of religious leaders in prayers for peace. More than 500 Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Jain, Shinto and Zoroastrian leaders from around the world had gathered in the birthplace of St Francis for the World Day of Prayer for Peace event, which attracted around 12,000 participants.
The Pope, Patriarch and Archbishop each gave a meditation on the theme of peace during an ecumenical prayer service to close the three-day prayer gathering, which had been organised by the Community of Sant’Egidio. This week’s event came on the 30th anniversary of the First World Day of Prayer for Peace, which the then-Pope, John Paul II, convened in 1986.
In his reflection, based on Isaiah 55: 1-6, Archbishop Justin Welby said that the world was struggling “to distinguish between what something costs and what it is worth” and said that “the greatest wealth in European history has ended in the tragedies of debt and slavery.”
He continued: “Our economies that can spend so much are merely sandy foundations. Despite it all, we find dissatisfaction and despair: in the breakdown of families; in hunger and inequality; in turning to extremists. Riddled with fear, resentment and anger, we seek ever more desperately, fearing the stranger, not knowing where to find courage.
“Yet God calls to us in mercy, to each of us and all of us together. He offers wealth that is real and will bring satisfaction. He calls for us to listen, to eat, to come, to trust.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis at an ecumenical prayer for peace service in Assisi.
Photo: Centro Televisivo Vaticano / Vatican Radio
He added: “We need to be reminded daily of our poverty in spirit, to thirst for the riches of God’s mercy. We are all to drink daily of that mercy in order to overcome our sin and anger, and to bear mercy to others.”
Closing the service, Pope Francis said: “We have come to Assisi as pilgrims in search of peace. We carry within us and place before God the hopes and sorrows of many persons and peoples: we thirst for peace; we desire to witness to peace.
“Above all, we need to pray for peace, because peace is God’s gift, and it lies with us to plead for it, embrace it, and build it every day with God’s help.”
Watch the ecumenical prayer service in this three-hour video.
- Click here to read the full text of Archbishop Justin’s reflection.