Assisi Redux - Not This Time

How do you celebrate the 25th anniversary of something?  Well, by everyone getting together again and NOT doing what you did 25 years ago.  Huh?

Well that is exactly what the the Church is doing to commemorate the infamous Assisi conference.  25 years ago, many of the world’s religions gathered together any prayed together.  In order to celebrate this historic act, the Church has invited everyone back together to NOT pray together.

VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Pope Benedict XVI and representatives of the world’s major religions will make speeches and sign a common commitment to peace when they meet in Assisi in October, but they will not pray together, the Vatican said.

In fact, Pope Benedict’s formal prayer service will be held at the Vatican the evening before the encounter Oct. 27 in Assisi with leaders of other Christian communities and representatives of the world’s main religions.

The October gathering will commemorate the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s “prayer for peace” encounter in Assisi. The 1986 event was seen by many as a milestone in interreligious relations but was criticized by some Catholics who said it appeared to inappropriately mix elements from Christian and non-Christian religions.

I think it is good that the Church will not make the same mistake that it made last time.  But it is kind of like gathering all your friends and family together to celebrate your 25th wedding anniversary, but announcing that you are getting divorced first.  But come anyway because there will be free beer and pigs in blankets, and who doesn’t like pigs in blankets?

I am probably not the most neutral person to comment on this as I am not a huge fan of inter-religious dialogue as it been understood these last decades and so I question the value of such an event.  But perhaps I underestimate the value of such things.  I don’t know.  The Vatican describes the event this way.

“Every human being is ultimately a pilgrim in search of truth and goodness. To the extent that the pilgrimage of truth is authentically lived, it opens the path to dialogue with the other, it excludes no one and it commits everyone to be a builder of fraternity and peace. These are the elements that the Holy Father wishes to place at the center of reflection.

The path to dialogue with the other that excludes no one.  That reminds me, where did I put my tambourine?

Anyway.

I may be jaded, but certain things you are better off putting behind you.  I bet there aren’t a lot of 25th reunions for graduates of juvenile hall.  And for good reason.  Better to just learn your lesson and move on.

President Donald Trump during his speech at a "Thank You" Tour rally held at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa.

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