On the first day of the year, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he intended to organise an ecumenical meeting at Assisi on the 25th anniversary of the first such meeting in 1986. in Assisi. That meeting, which saw Pope John Paul II meet with representatives of other Christian communities and world religions, was boycotted by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, and the official communique, released yesterday, warns against “sacrificing one’s own identity or indulging in forms of syncretism”, a risk always present when entering into ecumenical dialogue with others.
Evidently, the Holy Father now commits himself to something of a repeat of Assisi 1986, which is certainly welcome. It probably won’t be an exact copy, because this pope has a different style and different emphases than his predecessor did. Like Venerable John Paul II, he actively enters into dialogue with other religions an denominations, but his is a much more scholarly styled, identifying the differences just as much as the similarities and shared values. Assisi ’11 will no doubt reflect that.