Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Salvaging Assisi?

Fr. James V. Schall, S.J., for whom I have considerable respect, writes an intesting essay entitled "The Spirit of Assisi: On Praying With Other Religions," in Ignatius Insight (October 16, 2006). In it, he offers an exegesis of Pope Benedict XVI's address to the local bishop of Assisi (September 2, 2006) in commemoration of the World Day of Prayer. Benedict refers to John Paul II's call to prayer at Assisi as a "daring and prophetic initiative." But in order to show its prophetic nature, he has to offer a clarification, showing that what his predecessor had intended was no syncretistic confusion of religions, but a call to representatives of the world religions to pray together for peace, each in their own way, maintaining their integrity, in the bloody and violent face of world events. Schall's account gives the Assisi agenda a particularly world-historical political cast that strikes me as interesting, at least; and I suppose if anyone can salvage Assisi, it would be Benedict. However, I remain far from happy about the confusion Assisi left in its wake, which is a matter of empirical and sociological record; and I suspect that Benedict is sensitive to these concerns as well.

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