Peace lies at the heart of religion, and believers are called to be peacemakers and instruments of mercy.
The meeting in Oakland is the continuation of the movement that has inspired many men and women of various religious traditions to gather together to pray for peace. The first such meeting was called by St. John Paul II in Assisi in 1986. The Spirit of Assisi, which was generated by that first meeting, has continued worldwide for 30 years on the initiative of the Rome-based Community of Sant'Egidio.
On the 30th anniversary of that first meeting, the primary goal is to create a community of witnesses who counter the view that religions generate violence and war.
The Sept. 6 event is an opportunity for people of all faiths — and not academics alone.
"I wanted you to know there is something positive you and I can do to promote peace: by coming together to pray, and give common witness to our desire for peace," Bishop Barber said in his June 27 column in The Catholic Voice, in which he unveiled the plans for the meeting.
The Sept. 6 program will begin at 5:45 p.m. with prayer in five spaces within the cathedral complex, offering Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists the opportunity to pray in their own traditions.
The Christians will use the Sant'Egidio Prayer for Peace.
Prayer will be followed by Dialogue on a Spiritual Theme, with representatives of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, in the conference center. Each speaker will address "Mercy, the Heart of Peace," with an opportunity for a question-and-answer period at the conclusion. Paola Piscitelli, the New York-based leader of the Community of Sant'Egidio in the United States, will moderate.
The evening will conclude with children leading a procession to the Cathedral Plaza, where an appeal for peace, and signing of a pledge of peace will take place.
Additional information will be available at www.jubileeofmercy-eb.org. A form to RSVP to attend the event will be available there.
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