September 6, 2009 - September 9, 2009
Leaders of the world’s great religions, heads of state and men and women of culture will gather in Krakow from September 6 to 8 upon the invitation of the Community of Sant’Egidio and Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz.
The “spirit of Assisi” returns to Poland, this time to the native city of John Paul II, where the great pope got his cultural, humanistic and spiritual training.
The religious leaders thus agreed to meet at a crossroads of European history, paving the way for a pilgrimage, unprecedented in size and representation, to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, as a token of reconciliation and peace and a symbol of a radical rejection of violence and war as a way of solving international conflicts.
It will also provide a special occasion for retracing over twenty years of dialogue, inaugurated by John Paul II, in the region where he spent the dramatic war years and where he discovered the art of dialogue through the acquaintance of a Jewish friend. It was probably in the years spent in Krakow that he developed the intuition that would come about in Assisi and lead to the historic World Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace on October 27, 1986: an appeal to the God of all religions on the planet so that He grants peace to a world marked by profound injuries of division and war.
The tragic memories 70 years after the start of the Second World War and the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe are at the root of the decision by Stanisław Dziwisz, former secretary of John Paul II, Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow, and by the Community of Sant’Egidio to revive the Spirit of Assisi, from Krakow to the rest of the world.
In hard times of economic crisis and regional conflicts, which create uncertainty, fear and confusion in the generations of our world, religions will garner, through dialogue, the spiritual energy needed for a world without vision and therefore without a future.
More than ten cardinals will be present: aside from cardinal Dziwisz, cardinals Rylko, Sandri, Sepe, Sistach, Poupard, Glemp, Macharski, Shirayanagi, McCarrick and patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of Antioch, Gregorios III Laham, will be there.
From the several Orthodox Churches and ancient Eastern Churches, there will be two witnesses of the suffereing in the Middle East and Africa, His Holiness Karekine II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians, and His Holiness Abuna Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, who spent seven years in prison. There will also be a witness to the last inter-religious meeting, His Beatitude Chyrysostomos II, Archbishop of New Justina and of all of Cyprus.
Participation from different parts of the world will be ample and dynamic with representatives of International Christian Communions, of international Christian organizations and of other great world religions. From the Reverend Dr. Ishmael Noko, Secretary-General of World Lutheran Federation to the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, to Shear-Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa, together with an appreciable Muslim presence, from Indonesia, India, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey, Lebanon, Ivory Coast, Qatar as well as noteworthy representatives of Buddhism and Hinduism.
And finally there will be many international authorities and heads of state: from Cyprus to Costa Rica, from Albania to East Timor, to Poland and Uganda. Another important sign of a multi-polar world.