VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI and representatives of the world's major religions will make speeches and sign a common commitment to peace when they meet in Assisi in October, but they will not pray together, the Vatican said.
In fact, Pope Benedict's formal prayer service will be held at the Vatican the evening before the encounter Oct. 27 in Assisi with leaders of other Christian communities and representatives of the world's main religions.
The October gathering will commemorate the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's "prayer for peace" encounter in Assisi. The 1986 event was seen by many as a milestone in interreligious relations but was criticized by some Catholics who said it appeared to inappropriately mix elements from Christian and non-Christian religions.
The Vatican press office issued a statement April 2 giving the theme for the 2011 event -- "Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace" -- and a general outline of events.
"Every human being is ultimately a pilgrim in search of truth and goodness," the Vatican statement said.