Leaders of the world’s major religious traditions gathered in Assisi, the home of St. Francis, to pray, celebrate, meditate and pledge to work together on the principle that loving, kindness and compassion can overcome discord and lead to human unity and peace.
They pledged to share this peace pledge with world leaders, the United Nations, religious leaders, parliamentarians and billions of other people, and invited them to join the movement for loving, kindness, compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation.
Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh reminded us that first and foremost those who want peace must themselves be at peace and that peace within and amongst religions, is a pillar of world peace.
Swami ChidanandSaraswati said, “We can either be at peace or be in pieces. The choice is now.”
Before coming to Assisi, the peace pilgrims flew to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, and to the Greenland Ice Sheet to witness the enormity of the tragedy of its melting.
Eskimo Elder Angaangaq Angarkkorsuaq said: “It is the human heart which needs to melt. This is a priority if we are to stop the melting of our mother ice.”
From Greenland, the leaders travelled to Assisi and gathered for three days of intense dialogue and prayer. They were joined by many other faith leaders, scientists, and activists who had come in from around the world including India, United Kingdom, Serbia, Kenya and the United States of America amongst others.
Sacred water from Gangotri, the glacial source of the Ganges River in the Indian Himalayas, and the sacred water from Greenland were ceremonially mixed together into a heart shaped vessel, representing the sacred heart of humanity.
Faith leaders turned emotional as the sacred water was poured to the sound of prayers from the Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist and Indigenous traditions in the Portiuncula within the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels, Assisi.
The following day, the leaders carried the sacred water into the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, where St. Francis’ physical form lays in rest.
A global peace prayer was held, in which more than ten internationally renowned faith leaders said prayers and pledges for peace, with followers connecting from around the world via social media.
Bishop Ruben Tierrablanca welcomed this inter-faith community and expressed the importance of learning from the love that St. Francis lived.
“It is no longer enough to simply pray for peace,” the leaders agreed. “Like St. Francis, we must also serve and actively work for peace”.
The Peace Pledge Pilgrimage Project is an inter-faith initiative led by former Director of the International Monetary Fund and former Vice Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Johannes Witteveen, along with over a hundred spiritual and religious leaders, representing all major religions, from all over the world.
Collectively this group represents tens of millions of devoted individuals.
The project’s last pilgrimage was held at the Peace Palace in The Hague where the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court convenes.
Before that it travelled to India’s sacred places and receivedthe good wishes of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.