Celebration of the Spirit of Assisi in Pakistan
Lahore (Report Khurram Shahzad): National Council for Interfaith Dialogue under the leadership of Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap held an Interfaith Prayer Service for Peace on 27th Oct. 2011 at Peace Hall, St Joseph Church, Lahore Cantt.
This was in continuation of the commitment of the blessed Pope John Paul II he initiated in Assisi, Rome 25 years ago.
Beside 20 Christian priests, 20 Islamic Ulema, Hindu and Sikh priests, more than 200 people attended the prayer service.
The religious leaders read out scriptures from their respective holy books and offered collective prayers.
Fr. Francis Nadeem OFM Cap in his opening remarks said today we have gathered here to commemorate and celebrate 25th Anniversary of the world day of prayer for peace held in Assisi on Oct, 27th, 1986 by Pope John Paul II. He said building on this celebration Pope John Paul II, who made popular the idea of the spirit in Assisi, a concept which has inspired many efforts to promote peace and dialogue over the last quarter century.
He invited all the religious leaders of different religions to reinforce their commitment to peace and dialogue and celebrate this important Anniversary in the Spirit of Assisi.
Fr. Henry Paul OFM Cap. in his speech shed light on the background of the day and added that world was in the grip of war and bloodshed when the blessed Pope selected the city of Assisi, the native town of St. Francis, to hold a collective peace prayer by all the religious leaders of the world in order to promote interfaith harmony and peace. Today if we really want to have peace and harmony in the world we would have to adopt measures like mercy, tolerance and acceptance.
Mufti Mohd. Sohail Raza Qadri said though we belong to different religions but we are one as a nation. He narrated the event of Fateh Makkah where the holy Prophet (PBUH) gave liberty to all to practice their religion. He also allowed Christians to offer their prayers in Masjid-e- Nabvi which is a greatest example of gesture of peace.
Rev. Fr. James Channan OP, Asian Coordinator of United Religious Initiatives, expressing his pleasure termed the programme as an event of religious freedom and peace and said today the Peace Hall is presenting the look of cradle of peace.
He said in the city of Assisi around three hundred individuals of different religions from 50 countries are present who say that they are working for the peace. He termed Truth, Justice, Love & Freedom, as four pillars of Peace.
Maulana Akbar Saqi in his speech admitted that it was S.P Singha`s (Christian legislator) vote which played a crucial rule for an independent state.
A Hindu leader from UK, Baba Ji Ghi said we used to collectively celebrate Christmas, Eid and Dewali. These celebrations bring us closer to one anther. He appreciated the idea of praying together.
Allama Pir Qazi read out the message of Tahirul Qadri who has number of peace services to his credit.
The Sikh leader in his speech said in order to maintain peace we would have to love and respect our neighbors.
Fr. Qaiser Feroz OFM Cap. said the biggest enemy of social peace is human selfishness. With love and generosity we can maintain peace and all the religions teach the same
Pir Shafaat Rasul said all of us are natives of one land. He added no religion teachers hatred but it is our self interests which create problems. He termed all the religious a truth which cannot be denied and said combine religions is like a bouquet of flowers made by God. He termed St. Francis of Assisi as ambassador of peace and appreciated the peace efforts of the blessed Pope calling him the saint of peace.
Fr. Clarence Hayat said the very first prayer St. Francis offered after his conversion was for peace. Humbleness makes us the ambassador of peace and added God teaches us not only to love human beings but the entire universe.
The Capuchin Brothers repeated all those prayers which were recited in Assisi in 1986 followed by a collective peace prayer by all the religious leaders.
Rev.Fr. Abid Habib read out the peace prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. During this prayer the participants lit candles and sung the concluding song with the choir of St. Joseph Church.