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Pope Plans Daylong Prayer for Peace

Religion: The pontiff hopes representatives of the world's faiths will travel to Italy for the occasion in January.

November 19, 2001|Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II, concerned about the continued impact on humanity of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, on Sunday invited representatives of the world's religions to Assisi, Italy, for a daylong prayer for peace Jan. 24.

In his weekly appearance at St. Peter's Square, the pontiff invited leaders of all faiths, particularly Christians and Muslims, to "proclaim before the world that religion should never become a motive for conflict, hatred and violence."

"In these historic moments, humanity needs to see gestures of peace and hear words of hope," he said.

Assisi, a pilgrimage hill town in central Italy, is the birthplace of St. Francis, the founder of the Roman Catholic Franciscan order. The pope has twice before invited leaders of various faiths to gather in Assisi to pray for peace.

During his appearance, the 81-year-old pontiff also asked Catholics to fast Dec. 14 and pray to God for justice and an end to the many conflicts in the world. He noted that the date coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The pope has spoken out several times about the Sept. 11 attacks and has decried terrorism in the past several weeks. But although the Vatican has acknowledged the right of legitimate defense against terrorists, it has made clear that any "just war" needs to avoid harming innocent people.

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