Viewing cable 06VATICAN194
Title: SANT'EGIDIO HOSTS 20TH ANNUAL INTER-FAITH CONFERENCE IN

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06VATICAN1942006-09-12 13:54:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Vatican
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PP RUEHAST
DE RUEHROV #0194/01 2551354
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 121354Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0477
INFO RUCNWEC/WESTERN EUROPE AND CANADA COLLECTIVE
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHZU/ASIAN PACIFIC ECONOMIC COOPERATION COLLECTIVE
RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0505
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 VATICAN 000194 
 
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TAGS: PREL SOCI PHUM VT
SUBJECT: SANT'EGIDIO HOSTS 20TH ANNUAL INTER-FAITH CONFERENCE IN 
ASSISI 
 
 
VATICAN 00000194  001.3 OF 003 
 
 
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Summary 
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¶1.   (SBU) Catholic NGO the Community of Sant'Egidio brought 
together religious representatives from many of the world's 
faiths September 4-5 to find common ground in peace and 
reconciliation.  The Community's annual meeting was dedicated to 
Pope John Paul II, who initiated the series of meetings twenty 
years ago.  Pope Benedict XVI submitted a speech for the event, 
writing that prayer "does not divide, but unites" and that 
religion must never be used as an excuse for violence.  Most 
participants expressed the fundamental conviction that all true 
religions lead to peace and reconciliation.  Panels on a variety 
of topics focused on peace and reconciliation included 
high-profile Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish, and other 
participants (see paragraph seven below).  Sant'Egidio once 
again showed its leadership in inter-religious dialogue and 
peacemaking with the conference, offering important -- if 
symbolic -- examples of inter-religious brotherhood.  End 
Summary. 
 
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Assisi Meeting 
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¶2.      (U) Representatives of a variety of faiths gathered in 
Assisi, Italy September 4-5 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 
annual Inter-religious Prayer Meeting for Peace.  This year's 
meeting was dedicated to Pope Qhn Paul II, who launched the 
Assisi encounter as a way for religions to profess their 
commitment to peace.  Pope Benedict XVI had met with 
Sant'Egidio's founder shortly before the conference, and 
endorsed the event by penning a message to meeting attendees. 
He wrote that such gatherings were needed even more today, when 
younger generations of all faith must learn the prayer "does not 
divide, but unites" and that religion must never be used as an 
excuse for violence. 
 
¶3.      (U) Reflecting on the 20 years since the first Assisi 
gathering, Pope Benedict wrote that the fall of European 
communism and the promise of a more cooperative globalized 
economy generated hope for a new era of peace.  "Unfortunately, 
this dream of peace did not come true. On the contrary, the 
third millennium opened with scenarios of terrorism and violence 
that no show no signs of dissolving," the pontiff wrote. 
Speaking to reporters, the Holy See's ecumenical chief, Cardinal 
Walter Kasper, said it was naove to believe that problems could 
be solved through missiles, bombs and grenades.  "War does not 
lead to peace. War is often the mother of other wars. These wars 
create more terrorists than the ones that are eliminated," he 
said. 
 
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Religion Leads to Peace 
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¶4.      (U) This year's anniversary gathering, sponsored by the 
Community of Sant'Egidio, the Diocese of Assisi, and the Umbrian 
(Italy) Bishops Conference brought together representatives from 
the three monotheistic religions as well as Eastern religions. 
Most participants expressed the fundamental conviction that all 
true religions lead to peace and reconciliation.  The Vatican's 
inter-religious dialogue chief, Cardinal Paul Poupard, said the 
Assisi meeting wanted to demonstrate once again the religions, 
often accused of fomenting hatred and causing violence, are not 
the problem but rather part of the solution. 
 
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Middle Eastern Events 
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¶5.      (U) Recent events in the Middle East preoccupied many who 
attended the Assisi gathering.  Rabbi She'ar Yashuv Cohen of 
Haifa, Israel said religion and religious commitment are at the 
root and reasons for the conflicts that plague the region.  He 
accused fundamentalist Islam of inspiring terrorists ready to 
commit suicide in God's name.  However, the rabbi also noted 
that faith and religion also offer the way to a peaceful 
solution to the Middle East's problems through dialogue. 
 
¶6.      (U) Muslim voices critiqued the West as "disordered 
civilizations" that had discarded religion and replaced it with 
individualism.  The rector of the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, 
Egypt, Ahmad al-Tayyeg, said Islam was misunderstood and that it 
was a religion of peace.  He noted that throughout history, 
 
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Muslim civilizations had never made people miserable, nor 
subjected them to "fear, hunger or death."  A panel on Lebanon 
with no Israeli or U.S. participants (septel) offered harsh 
criticism of the recent conflict, and detailed the destruction 
of Lebanese infrastructure.  There was relatively little mention 
of Iraq at the conference, a change from Sant'Egidio's last 
several annual events. 
 
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Speakers and Panels 
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¶7.  (U)  Below please find a list of conference speakers and 
panel topics.  Most of their speeches will be available on the 
Sant'Egidio website (www.santegidio.org). 
 
Session: Assisi 1986-2006 
Speakers: Jean Dominique Durand, Mohammed Esslimani, Mar 
Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Giuseppe Laras, Gijun Sugitani 
 
Session: Secular Humanism, a Challenge for Believers and 
Non-Believers 
Speakers:  Giuliano Amato, Enzo Bianchi, Emma Fattorini, Arrigo 
Levi, Pietro Scoppola 
 
Session: Eurafrica, the Future We Need 
Speakers: Marcel Honorat Leon Agboton, Blaise Compaore', Jean 
Michel Debrat, Kpakile' Felemou, Mario Giro, Savino Pezzotta 
 
Session: Family and Religions 
Speakers: Athanasios, Jurgen Johannesdotter, Alfonso Lopez 
Trujillo 
 
Session:  Longing for God: a Quest for Peace 
Speakers: Riccardo Di Segni, Heinrich Mussinghoff, Jean Claude 
Petit, Seraphim, Josep Maria Soler 
 
Session: The Civilization of Coexistence in a Time of War 
Speakers: Elias Chacour, Jean-Arnold de Clermont, Israel Singer 
 
Session: The Future of Lebanon 
Speakers: Abbas Halabi, Paul Matar, Seoud El Maoula, Tarek 
Mitri, Mohammed Sammak, Ghassan Tueni 
 
Session: 1986-2006: Building Peace and Solidarity is Possible 
Speakers: Tamara Chikunova, Jesus Delgado, Antonio Ferrari 
 
Session: John Paul II: Memory and Prophecy 
Speakers: Renato Boccardo, Jurgen Johannesdotter, Walter Kasper, 
Serafim, Rene Samuel Sirat, Mohammed Amine Smaili 
 
Session: Love of God, Love for One's Neighbour 
Speakers: Richard Chartres, Hasan Hanafi, Berl Lazar 
 
Session: Globalizing Solidarity 
Speakers: Asma Benkada, Cristina De Luca, Renzo Gattegna, 
Agostino Marchetto 
 
Session: Conflicts: a Challenge to Dialogue 
Speakers: Gaspare Barbiellini Amidei, Francesco Cacucci, Shear- 
Yashuv Cohen, John J. DeGioia, Paul Poupard 
 
Session:  Ecumenism: "How much further must we go?" 
Speakers: Casian, Aldo Giordano, Jonas Jonson, Luka, Juha 
Pihkala, Zakarian 
 
Session:  Prayer at the Root of Peace 
Speakers: Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, Laurentiu, Joseph Levi 
 
Session:  Making Poverty History 
Speakers:  Kjell Magne Bondevik, Pierre Dumas, Paul Lacey, Jean 
Mbarga, Cornelio Sommaruga, Walter Veltroni 
 
Session:  Asian Religions:  Inter-religious Dialogue and Passion 
for Peace 
Speakers: Keiichi Akagawa, Swami Amarandanda, Gensho Hozumi 
 
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Comment 
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¶8.  (SBU) Sant'Egidio once again showed its leadership in 
inter-religious dialogue and peacemaking with the Assisi 
conference.  The Community has a keen sense for optics; a young 
woman from Uganda had the crowd's rapt attention when she took 
the stage with a backdrop of the top religious leaders present 
 
VATICAN 00000194  003.3 OF 003 
 
 
to speak about recent strides for peace in her country.  An 
Italian Muslim woman then spoke eloquently of the need for 
understanding between faiths.  Finally, a visibly-moved Italian 
President Napolitano joined the religious leaders in lighting a 
group of candles for peace, symbolizing the common ground the 
groups had found.  Cynics might charge that such visuals are 
mere window dressing next to the realities of violence and 
terrorism.  But in a world where sound bites and images 
predominate, Sant'Egidio provided effective examples of both - 
on the side of peace and reconciliation. 
SANDROLINI