ROME (Dec. 3)
Pope John Paul II has called on representatives of all religions in Europe — Christians, Jews, Moslems and others –to join together for a day of fasting and prayer for peace, particularly for an end to the war in Bosnia.
The announcement was made Tuesday evening, during the Pope’s meeting at the Vatican with the presidents of the Roman Catholic Church’s 26 European Bishops Conferences.
The pope specifically and “with joy” invited Jewish and Moslem leaders to attend the prayer gathering, which is scheduled for Jan. 9-10 in Assisi, Italy. He also issued a “cordial and warm” invitation to leaders of non-Catholic Christian churches.
He said he wanted to reaffirm the meaning of an interreligious gathering in Oct. 1986 in Assisi, at which religious leaders from all over the world prayed together for peace.
Meanwhile, a senior Italian cleric said that the racism and anti-Semitism of today are more dangerous than the left-wing terrorism that hit Europe in the 1970s, and should be combatted as such.
Monsignor Dionigi Tettamanzi, secretary-general of the Italian Bishops Conference, made his remarks at a roundtable on minorities and racism in Europe.
At the same roundtable, Rome Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff said he believed there was a “puppeteer” pulling the strings behind racist attacks in Europe.
In an interview Wednesday with II Messaggero newspaper, Italian Justice Minister Claudio Martelli gave cautious agreement to this, and also said that it appeared that attacks in various countries were connected.
“We don’t have evidence of direct links, but everything leaves one to suppose that they exist in one form or another. I think,” he said, “that there is one direction, one hand.
“Otherwise the context of the phenomenon in so many different countries, which have such differing conditions, with the same scenarios and same acts of violence and intimidation, would be inexplicable.”
He said, “I hope that investigations enable us soon to identify the center of centers of this shameful phenomenon. It is certainly an organized matter. We have to realize that these are not spontaneous episodes.”