Benedict XVI Visits Assisi and Calls for Peace

Urges a Responsible and Sincere Dialogue to End Conflicts

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ASSISI, Italy, JUNE 17, 2007 (Zenit.org).- From the city of St. Francis, Benedict XVI launched an appeal for responsible and sincere dialogue to end armed conflict in the world, particularly in the Holy Land, Lebanon and Iraq.



The Pope made his appeal after praying the midday Angelus in the piazza in front of the Lower Church of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi. The Holy Father visited the city today to mark the 800th anniversary of St. Francis' conversion.

"I consider it my duty to issue an urgent and heartfelt appeal from this place to stop all armed conflicts that are bloodying the earth," the Pontiff said. "May weapons be silenced and may hate yield to love, offense to pardon, and discord to unity!

"We feel here the spiritual presence of all those who weep, suffer and die at war or because of its tragic consequences in any part of the world. Our thoughts are directed in particular to the Holy Land, a place so loved by St. Francis, to Iraq, Lebanon and all the Middle East."

The Pontiff said the "populations of these places have experienced for too long the horrors of war, terrorism, blind violence, the illusion that force can solve conflicts, and the refusal to listen to the reasoning of others and do them justice."

International support

The Pope called for a "responsible and sincere dialogue, sustained by the generous support of the international community." He said only such a dialogue "will be able to end so much suffering and give new life and dignity to individuals, institutions and people."

The Holy Father asked for St. Francis' intercession so that God will grant "the grace of an increasing number of people who will agree to become 'instruments of peace' through thousands of small gestures in their daily lives. May those who are in positions of power be motivated by a passionate love for peace, an indomitable will to obtain it, and may they choose the adequate means to reach it."

Benedict XVI recalled that it was in Assisi that Pope John Paul II convoked the World Day of Prayer for Peace. The German Pope sent a greeting to all religious leaders who attended that 1986 World Day. Another World Day of Prayer for Peace was held in Assisi in January 2002.