Francis to meet Bartholomew, Welby in Assisi peace meeting this month

A peace flag is seen as Pope Francis leads an encounter with young people in Assisi, Italy, in this Oct. 4, 2013, file photo. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Vatican City — Pope Francis will head to Assisi for a record third time in his pontificate later in September for an interreligious encounter focused on peacemaking, where he will meet representatives of several world religions and leaders of the Orthodox and Anglican churches.

Taking part in an event hosted by the international Sant'Egidio community Sept. 20, the pontiff will have individual meetings with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, and Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Anglican Communion.

The Vatican announced the details for the pope's one-day trip for the "Thirst for peace: Religions and culture in dialogue" meeting in a short release Thursday.

The September visit will be Francis' second to Assisi in two months, following an Aug. 4 trip to the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels, the church which houses the small chapel that 13th-century St. Francis of Assisi created as the headquarters for his religious order.

About 400 participants are expected for the interreligious meeting, which is being held to mark the 30th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s historic 1986 interreligious event in Assisi for the World Day of Prayer for Peace.

The schedule released by the Vatican Thursday indicates that Francis will also meet individually Sept. 20 with Muslim and Jewish representatives yet to be named.

At the end of the event, the religious leaders are to sign an appeal for peace that will be symbolically handed to children representing the different nations of the world.

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

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