VATICAN – ASSISI, 23rd – 24th JAN 2002
12 December 2001
Dear Shri Krishnaraj,
Taking into consideration the grave situation of the world, His Holiness Pope John Paul II has taken the initiative of calling for a Day of Prayer for Peace in the World. This will take piace on 24 January 2002 His Holiness is inviting qualified Representatives of different religions of the world to join him in Assiii, Itaty on that day.
The Official participants will accompany His Holiness the Pope by train from the Vatican to Assisi.In Assisi there will be a time of testimonies. This will be followed by a period in which each religious tradition will be invited to pray separately. Following a fraternal meal, there will be a concluding ceremony in which the parlicipants will be invited to commit themselves to the cause of peace (see the detailed programme, encl.1)
On behalf of the Pontifical Council for Intereligious Dialogue I am happy to extend to you an invitation to take part in this Day of Prayer for Peace.
For the duration of the event you will be the guest of the Holy See (Vatican).
Furlhermore, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue will be arranging a Forum The Contribwtion of Religions to the Cause of Peace This will be held in Rome, Wednesday, 23 Jantary 2002, 16.00 – 19.00. You are cordially invited to take part in this forum and to contribute a five-minute reflection.
Cardinal Francis Arinze
Shri Krishnaraj Vanavarayar (Chairman)
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 14 Ruckmani Nagar,
Ramanathapuram, Coimbatore-641 045 , India
Bureaux – Office
VIA DELL’ERBA, 1-00193 ROMA
VATICAN – ASSISI, 23rd – 24th JAN 2002
Your Excellencies, Brothers and Sisters,
In the name of Peace, I greet you on behalf of the world’s largest democracy.
‘Absence of War is not Peace’ – said a philosopher statesman of India. Religious intolerance, racial discrimination, economic marginalisation, political conflict, social inequality, cultural degradation and ecological imbalance could also be some of the major threats to Peace.
A determined humanity will have to meet these challenges unitedly and religion can help bring about that unity of purpose provided it is properly understood and practiced.
This Historic Meet called by His Holiness Pope John Paul II is a timely initiative in that direction. We the chosen few representing the various faiths and cultures of the world have come together to understand and appreciate each other’s points of view. We should explore common areas and avenues to work together for promoting peace through dialogue setting aside differences if there are any.
The strength of India has always been her spirituality and the concept of oneness, the core of India’s Vedic vision has helped her to find unity in the midst of all her diversities. Some religions of Indian origin went out and some from outside came in, but India has treated them all alike and encouraged them to be parl of her mainstream. Thus the ancient wisdom of the land has in the process assimilated the best from all of them and enriched her-self. Hinduism believes not only in tolerating other religions of the world but also in accepting them as true.
India’s commitment to peace has always been total. There has not been a single instance in her history when she has waged war on others. Her faith and commitment to peace was amply demonstrated in the recent past when Mahatma Gandhi got India her freedom through peaceful means thereby establishing to the world the power of Truth and Non-violence.
Long before science could reduce the world to a global village, the wise men of India had the vision to see the whole of humanity as one single family. Hinduism believes in the divinity of man and when the same finds expression all distrust and divisions disappear.
Hinduism never opposed science. To the contrary it even welcomed it and felt the imperative need to find a synthesis between the two.
By playing a complimentary role, religion and science can help moderate want and create wealth through fair means and ensure equitable distribution of the same without endangering the nature of man within and without, guaranteeing peace and sustainable development.
Perhaps it is this that tempted the British historian Arnold Toynbee to say, “It is already becoming clear that a chapter which had a Westem beginning will have to have an Indian ending if it is not end in the self-destruction of the human race. At this supremely dangerous moment in history the only way of salvation for mankind is the Indian way”.
In a fast changing world order religion will have to stand the test of reason and relate itself to the changing needs of the time. Terrorism and materialism. the twin aberrations of our times, has deprived man of his inner peace and leisure, making him weak and vulnerable.
Religion should help man realize his true self – and gain the courage and conviction to resist any attempt to undermine his inner personality – which is infinite love and compassion.
Let me close with what the great Indian saint Swami Vivekananda said
“If there be righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character, if there be beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home, if there be harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation, if there be order in the nation,there will be peace in the World”.
Om Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.