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No joint prayer at pope’s interreligious meeting

In International on October 19, 2011 at 6:33 am

Benedict XVI has invited Hindus, Jews, Taoists and Muslims to join him next week for a peace pilgrimage to the hilltop town of Assisi — but they won’t pray together because Benedict doesn’t want to show different beliefs and rituals mixing.

The Oct. 27 event marks the 25th anniversary of the first such interreligious prayer for peace, which was promoted by Pope John Paul II and held in the town known for its native son St. Francis.

Pope Benedict XVI didn’t attend that first 1986 meeting and later criticized it as an example of religious relativism — the idea that there are no absolute truths and that all religions are somehow equal — since people of different faiths were seen praying together, jointly.

In 2000 when he was head of the Vatican’s doctrine office, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger issued a controversial document in part as a response to the Assisi meeting, which suggested the fullness of human salvation was found in the Catholic Church alone.

Now pope, Benedict is presiding over his first Assisi interreligious gathering, and the decision to eliminate the common, public prayer was seen as his way of further correcting the wrongs from the 1986 event, which was repeated in 2002 albeit with changes.

Vatican officials outlined the day’s schedule Tuesday and released the guest list, which includes a record 300-plus delegates representing dozens of faiths — and even four people who profess no faith whatsoever, a novelty this year.

Some of the big names include Rajhmoon Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi who will head a Hindu delegation, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, a delegation from Israel’s rabbinate authority, a Bahai, a Zoroastrian, three Jains, five Sikhs, and a Yoruba.

via No joint prayer at pope’s interreligious meeting.


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