On the afternoon of 20 October an International Prayer Meeting for Peace took place in Rome promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio on the theme “No one is saved alone – Peace and Fraternity” in the spirit of Assisi and Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli tutti.
The ecumenical prayer service at the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli was attended by Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew together with Bishop Heinrich Bedford–Strohm, President of the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD), and leaders of other various Christian traditions, including Archbishop Ian Ernest, Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury in Rome, Metropolitan Joseph (Pop) of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Archbishop Khajag Barsamian of the Armenian Apostolic Church (Etchmiadzin), Bishop Ambrose (Muntjanu) of the Russian Orthodox Church, Pastor Luca Maria Negro, President of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI), Deacon Alessandra Trotta, Moderator of the Waldensian Table, Pastor Mirella Manocchio, President of Italian Methodist Churches, and Pastor Michael Jonas of the Lutheran Church in Rome.
In his homily Pope Francis reflected, “Love alone makes room for others. Love alone is the path towards full communion among us”. He continued, “The closer we become to the Lord Jesus, the more we will be open and ‘universal’, since we will feel responsible for others”. In being more fraternal, concluded the Pope, we become more “credible witnesses of the true God”. In his meditation, Bishop Bedfor–Strohm reflected, “Christ is one! How could we be satisfied with our internal divisions? Passion for the unity of the church is not a sentiment of some special interest group in the church. It is part of the very DNA of each church”.
The ecumenical prayer service was followed by an international meeting of prayer for peace at Piazza del Campidoglio, gathering together with the Christian leaders other representatives of the world religions, including Haim Korsia, the Chief Rabbi of France, Mohamed Abdelsalam Abdellatif, Superior General of Human Fraternity, Shoten Minegishi, Soto Zen Buddhist Monk, and Karmaljit Singh Dillon, Sikh Burdwara Parbandhak, as well as political leaders. In his address, the Holy Father reiterated, “Religions stand at the service of peace and fraternity. For this reason, our present gathering also represents an incentive to religious leaders and to all believers to pray fervently for peace”. In his address, the Ecumenical Patriarch stated, “Created in the image and likeness of God, we see the image of our brother in ourselves, and the divine fragment in every human being. Looking at all that surrounds us, we see the divine work contained therein”.
The prayer meeting concluded with the lighting of candelabras and the signing of the “Rome 2020 Appeal for Peace” (scroll down on external website) by Pope Francis, the other religious leaders and political representatives, including Mr Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic. The Appeal affirms, “[A] world that is amply connected … often lacks a sense of fraternity. All of us are brothers and sisters! Let us pray to the Most High that, after this time of trial, there may no longer be 'others', but rather, a great 'we', rich in diversity. … Let us work together to create a new architecture of peace”.