Do the world religions naturally produce violence
PRAYER DAY FOR WORLD PEACE
OPINIONS OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE RELIGIONS
AT THE PRAYER MEETING IN ASSISI
Thursday January 24, 2002
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.
»True peace comes from God«(Cf. St. John Chrysostom, PG 61, 14).
The peace of God and the peace on earth stand in a mother-daughter relationship to one another.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, whom the prophet Isaiah calls the "Prince of Peace" (cf. Isa 9, 6), made a distinction between the peace of God and the peace on earth (cf. Joh 14:27), but he also called all those who make peace blessed, promising them that they would be "called sons of God" (Mt 5, 9).
The peace of God is offered to all those who are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and who actually prove their fellowship with him through love, virtue, perfect faith and trust in him.
The peace of God is the most perfect blessing and represents the reliable guidance of man (cf.Basil the Great, PG 30, 305). As such, it transcends all understanding (cf. Phil 4, 7) and has no end (cf. Isa 9, 7). "It extends to every century, because it is unlimited and infinite" (cf. Basilius the Great, PG 30, 513). There can be no such peace "unless one has first attained virtue" (cf. St. John Chrysostom, PG 62, 73) because it is a fruit of grace. This works in those who are free from evil intentions and inner strife. The evil passions cause internal unrest, and when they induce the will to put them into practice, they lead to external war (cf. Jak 4, 1).
So in order to have peace in the world one must be at peace with God and consequently with oneself and one another. The word of Christ to the city of Jerusalem: "If only you, too, had known on that day what brings you peace" (Lk 19, 42), today is addressed equally to the whole world. It is our duty, especially now, after the murder of so many victims and after terrible massacres, to make ourselves primarily aware of the spiritual, but also the economic and other requirements of peace on earth. These requirements are: justice; Respect for the sacred character of the human person of our neighbor, his freedom and dignity; Reconciliation; benevolent and selfless attitude towards fellow human beings and towards the virtuous life willed by God, which also includes justice; a fair participation of all people in the goods of the earth, in science and technology. So that the destruction of a single city, foreseen by Christ and that happened at that time, does not repeat itself in global proportions for our generations, we must show repentance, return to God and recognize and fulfill his holy will. Then God, who is not a God of war and struggle, but a God of peace, will answer our prayer and give us and the whole world peace on earth. On the other hand, if we persist in the sinful and evil passions, in greedy, selfish and selfish personal pursuits, the voices of war will rise and calamity will strike the earth and humanity.
The Lord of Peace grant us his peace. Amen.
Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey
(Read by Bishop Richard Garrard.)
It is with great joy that I greet the leading representatives of the religious communities who have gathered in Assisi at the invitation of His Holiness Pope John Paul II. I am very sorry that I cannot be with you personally, especially because those responsible for the religions can make an important contribution to peace and reconciliation in our increasingly insecure and dangerous world.
In the past few months we have recognized again how much we need each other. We have experienced violence, war and hatred and have seen how the mistakes of a generation can be repeated by children and grandchildren. We need the grace of God to stretch out our hands in superhuman generosity and to free ourselves and our neighbors from the bonds of the past.
It is neither a quick nor a painless way to go. Where people have learned enmity and distrust, it takes a long time to build friendship and trust. Jesus Christ, the inspirational leader of all Christians, taught us that those who mourn are blessed because they are comforted. He taught that the merciful are blessed because they will find mercy, and that the peacemakers are blessed because they are called sons of God. We are called to remain full of hope and not to lose heart.
The religious organizations and we as religious leaders are entrusted with a very delicate and difficult task. Despite our imperfections, we are witnesses of God's goodness. We try to speak words of truth, love, and forgiveness while holding on to what is good. We recognize that our traditions can be abused to divide people instead of uniting them. Sometimes we have decided on the elements that separate rather than the common.
We admit that we misunderstood and hurt one another; therefore, we must build peace on our inner need to accept and offer forgiveness.
However, our efforts must be realistic, rooted in prayer, and prophetic. We cannot proclaim freedom to prisoners without releasing those who are plunged into poverty by overwhelming debt. If we want to live in harmony with our neighbors, it means that we have to feed the hungry and provide medical care for the sick. If we consider ourselves to be members of a single human family, we must share the good things some of us have with the many who do not have them.
We must do this in a way that is honorable to all people, respects their human dignity and enables them to participate in the economic and political life of the world.
Brothers and sisters, even if I am not with you personally, your meeting will be very strongly present in my thoughts and prayers. This day is a new stage in our journey, a sign of our commitment to one another and to God, who leads us forward together.
Dr. Ishmael Noko (Lutheran World Federation)
Today is a day on which we turn to God, our mighty divine source of life with many names, with our requests for the future of the world. It is an opportunity to reflect on what religious belief means in a world of violence. The question arises: Who is our ultimate allegiance to? How can we first and foremost bear testimony of a God who the whole world loves, and not for someone who is bound by certain national, cultural or political pledges of loyalty?
Interreligious dialogue and relationships between people of different beliefs are in themselves an expression of true belief in God. They build bridges of mutual trust and respect and tear down the walls of hostility. Interreligious relationships cannot be separated from their possible social and political effects. Through dialogue, self-exploration, prayer, and contemplation, we can better understand and be able to respond to the situations of desperation in many parts of the world that contribute to the fueling of hatred and violence. I pray that through these means we will find the right ways to tackle poverty, economic inequalities, human rights violations, the abuses of power and other serious injustices that add to such desperation.
In a world shaken by the sharpness of the hatreds fueled by religious fundamentalism, dialogue between religions has received renewed attention and priority. The ultimate goal of this dialogue - as well as the prayer and reflection we shall now exert - is to listen to what God wants to tell us through our various traditions. In this way we can recognize the grace and will of God and reject those attitudes that legitimize religiously motivated conflicts.
The United Nations, which deservedly received the Nobel Peace Prize last year, must in future develop even further into the structure envisaged at the beginning, so that it can better and better promote friendship among all nations. They should commit and use determination to take action for international justice, peace, and the integrity of God's creation. The role of diplomacy needs to be strengthened to directly address the underlying causes of terrorism and violence. The purpose of diplomatic relations is more important in the current situation than the creation of an alliance for military action. Diplomacy must play an essential role in correcting and healing past injustices and building common visions for a better future.
Politicians around the world now have a heavy responsibility. The same applies to religious communities, the financial world, the areas of science and education, institutions and organizations in the information sector and the entertainment industry. The globalized world must not be a scene of brutal conflicts, but it must become a place of search for a common future for humanity.
At this critical point in time, the churches of the Lutheran World Federation will try to fulfill their role as partners for brotherhood among men and justice in the various fields; especially through dialogue and joint initiatives with members of other faith communities.
May we all be tools through our worship and prayer through which God can work to heal the world.
Dr. Setri Nyomi (World Federation of Reformed Churches)
The good samaritan.
And who is my neighbor?
As churches of the Reformed tradition, we cannot help but begin such an hour of testimony with the Word of God. The familiar story of the Good Samaritan has always emphasized the unexpected helper who behaved as neighbor - often without a deeper exploration of the religious and cultural differences that exist between those who help and those who are helped . It is interesting that our Lord Jesus gave this story in response when he was asked a question about the conditions for salvation; It contains words of love, respect, concern and concern for people who may belong to a completely different culture or religion - instead of carelessly ignoring them, ignoring them or treating them as enemies.
Such narratives show us the basis for our mission to build a culture of peace in our world today. Unfortunately, we have currently inherited a world in which people with different (often political or economic) intentions use religions as tools for their own wars, thus plunging the world into a state of peacelessness. If only we could hear the story of the Good Samaritan one more time!
We are not here to complain in this hour of testimony. Above all, we are here to praise the positive examples of charity. We remember with gratitude the experience of the Christian Council of Liberia and the Supreme Islamic Council in Liberia, who have come together to form the Interfaith Committee. This was the starting point of the road to peace in Liberia. Yes, peace has not yet fully become a reality in Liberia, but the decision by these two communities to work together was an important milestone, and this decision is moving Liberia further towards a more permanent peace. Something similar can be said of Sierra Leone. We have received news from Indonesia about communities in which Christians and Muslims have lived together peacefully for years - until the very recent past, when forces, some of which were controlled from outside, began to turn Christians and Muslims against one another on some islands. In recent months, however, we have also been informed that there are people on both sides of these communities who come together for dialogue and want to stand against all destructive forces. These are signs of hope that we must encourage and pray for.
Our job is to pray that these seeds of peace will continue to sprout. We need more Samaritans who are inspired by their faith and who are not led by religious differences to ignore or even hate others. We are members of the same communities on the same earth. If we work to build peace in our own communities, it is not a dishonesty towards our religions or a contradiction to the spirit of our religion. This commitment is part of our calling.
So let us all find more and more unity and pray for peace.
Geshe Tashi Tsering (Buddhism)
At every moment, now and at all times, may I become a protector of the defenseless, a guide for those who have lost their way, a ship for all who have to cross oceans, a bridge for those who cross rivers want to become a shelter for those in danger, a lamp for those in need of light, a refuge for those who seek shelter and a servant of all those in need.
As long as space exists, as long as there are sentient beings, may I also stay and drive away the misery of the world. (A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Life Form, Shantideva).
Chef Amadou Gasseto (African natural religions)
The initiative of Pope John Paul II in favor of peace has awakened in me great joy and hope for the future of our world, which is often torn by violence and war. I am very honored to have been invited to take part in the prayer for peace in Assisi, and it also honors all the faithful followers of Vodun Avélélékété, of which I am High Priest. By accepting the invitation to this prayer, I commit myself to fostering a spirit and conduct of peace in my believers that can have a positive impact on society in Benin.
But first I recognize that peace is a gift that God gives to people. Nevertheless, this gift is left to the responsibility of man, who is called by his Creator to build peace in this world. It is a universal responsibility that affects all of creation.
For me, as the person responsible for the natural religion of Vodun, peace is not possible as long as there are cracks, divisions and enmities between people. We must begin to control ourselves in order not to use words that evoke feelings of contradiction, exclusion and violence. We must take responsibility for the spirit that shapes our words. It should be a spirit that creates unity, togetherness, and brotherhood. Then peace will find a good breeding ground for it to spread among people.
I am convinced of one thing: peace in the world depends on peace between people. Man's responsibility in the world affects not only society but all of creation. If there is no peace between people, there is no peace between the rest of creation and man either. The seasons are mixed up and the soil no longer produces fruit to feed people. But when people in a nation work towards peace, their earth becomes fertile and the herds multiply for the greater good of man. This is a natural law given by the Creator, because he has tied the fate of creation to man's sense of responsibility.
Therefore, it is good to urge people every year to convert their hearts and reject hatred, violence and injustice. Those in charge of the world's religions must neither forget nor neglect this practice.It is a matter of making amends for the evil that has been done to creation by man's irresponsibility, of asking for forgiveness from the guardian spirits of the areas struck by human violence and evil, of making sacrifices for reparation and purification and in this way restore peace. I declare that this purification of nature is essential to restore peace between human beings and the rest of creation. Previously, in the time of the kings, Benin adhered strictly to this practice, and the country enjoyed a time of peace and the benefits of nature. Today's leaders have to take care of it. And we want to remind them of this when we return from Assisi; in this way, everything that we experienced together on a world level in Italy should also be realized on a national level in Benin.
I would also like to point out another essential aspect: respect for the "manes" of our ancestors. We must remember that the ancestors who preceded us in this world lived in a relationship of respect for God and nature in order to leave us a world that is still habitable and beneficial to man. The world, as it had been formed by them at that time, was not perfect in all its components, but it had the advantage of ensuring a strong cohesion between man and nature. Bans protected the springs, forests and landscapes for the renewal of flora and fauna. Prohibitions determined interpersonal relationships within the family and society. The protection of the ecosystem and a general balance in society contributed effectively to maintaining this cohesion between nature and humans. Without adequate respect for this world inherited from our ancestors and without constant efforts to improve it for the people of our time, one cannot speak of peace.
One of the social practices that our ancestors left us in the African country of Benin is the art of oral negotiation, the »palaver«, to resolve interpersonal and social conflicts. There you learn the art of respecting your opponent, tolerating your differences and understanding the convictions of others. This practice should also encourage the various people responsible for peace in the world to lead the opponents back to dialogue, for only dialogue can make it possible to restore peace in hearts and nations. Nothing is as valuable as a dialogue that makes it possible to part with mutual agreement. Then one moves from hatred to mutual respect. This important role of the "palaver" must also be preserved in the international institutions which decide on peace between nations and - within the nations - between individuals. The "palaver" today must contribute to putting us in a position to administer our present world with all its difficulties, which are always the responsibility of the people.
In what you have just read, I have set out my religious beliefs about working for peace in my country and in the world. I cannot close here without emphasizing that justice and brotherly love are the two indispensable pillars of genuine peace among men. Italy, where I went for this spiritual meeting from Assisi, is a country of great religious traditions. We, the leaders of the religions, must work in our countries for respect for other nations and for solidarity between peoples. The problem of the development of poor countries, including mine, is without a doubt the greatest threat to world peace. Solidarity between peoples must lead to a fairer sharing of the earth's riches. The highly developed countries must support the less developed countries in their efforts to progress. International trade must not only favor those with strong economies, but must also respect the real efforts of each people in terms of labor and production. The twenty-first century that we have now entered must be a century of building a more just and fraternal world. The values we must promote as religious leaders are love and togetherness - in a world where we are really all brothers and sisters. If we work for it, we will create peace in our world. God bless the Assisi meeting and grant peace to our world.
Didi Talwalkar (Hinduism)
First of all, I would like to thank the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue for inviting them to share my reflections on world peace with those here. I feel truly honored and blessed by the presence of His Holiness Pope John Paul II.
Hinduism is a deep source of inspiration for me. But I can only say that I am nothing but a student of a tradition that goes back several millennia. I therefore hope for the indulgence of His Holiness and the other venerable brothers and sisters gathered here.
The ideas associated with the term peace are diverse. For most secular thinkers, peace is the absence of violence and the non-violent resolution of conflicts. However, this seems to be a very limited conception of peace. Of course, the absence of violence is entirely welcome and desirable. Various institutions at all levels - political organizations, diverse groupings in the field of religion and civil society, etc. - performed and are still doing commendable work in the peaceful settlement of conflicts within and between different communities. Again and again, however, this peace gets out of order, and so far it has not been possible to find a lasting basis for peace. For me, peace is the maintenance of balance and harmony internally and externally. To the extent that we fail to achieve this kind of understanding, we will continue to experience intolerance, misery, exploitation, discord and injustice.
Correctly understood, religion is the driving force that can restore harmony and holism between the inner and outer world. Although religions claim - which is also expected of them - to be the unifying force, there have been repeated cases throughout history where self-appointed saviors of religion have placed religion itself at the service of power and divisive forces to have.
We have seen how often people try to twist people's religious orientation. The real message of religion is not bigotry; it must not be this.
I come from a culture in which "religion" is closest to our "dharma«Corresponds to. It is a universal tradition that refers to a moral order to determine the relationship between "I" and "other" as well as divine energy. This mutual relationship contains an "order" which makes it possible to expand personal consciousness from a self-contained existence to a relationship with the divine.
Such deification of human beings gives us an idea of the value of life. Not only am I divine in essence, but every other human being is just as divine in essence, and this connects us to one another in the fatherhood of God (»vasudhaiva kutumbhakam«). When we realize this, different affiliations will no longer be a cause of conflict. What the Pontifical Council is proposing today is a model for interreligious relations. It is an obligation that can open a dialogue between different religious traditions with a view to developing an understanding of spiritual humanism.
For me as a member of the Swadhyaya »parivar«(Family), inspired by the revered Pandurang Shastri Athawale, this universal brotherhood is quite natural because he taught us the idea of accepting all religious traditions (»sarva dharma sweekaar«). They are not mutually exclusive. The Swadhyaya is based on the view that God is inherent in all human beings and that we are all children of the same God. Through an in-depth examination of the classical heritage of India, he tried to remove the barriers between people and free the idea of religion from dogmatism, narrow-mindedness and compulsions.
For us, social engagement to restore and heal society is not an act of social reform, but an opportunity to show our gratitude to the Supreme Being. We call this »bhakti«, That is, surrender to God. We call this a social force, because it allows the individual, pettiness, anger and greed (»kshudrata«, »krodh" and "lobha")to overcome. This development of the human being helps him to transform his daily chores into forces of liberation from all kinds of subjugation and to get over difficulties, complexes and feelings of isolation, insecurity and worthlessness. It enables us to move from a simple guarantee of human rights to a higher level of safeguarding human dignity and duty.
My dear brothers and sisters! From a perspective higher than my own position in life, I dare - from this illustrious assembly and in the blessed presence of His Holiness Pope John Paul II - to appeal to humanity to rise above their isolation, an absolute, selfless one and to develop unconditional love for God and his creation to overcome constant crisis situations. This is not a theoretical construct. We have shown on a small scale that it is possible to achieve a social order. Let us not let our inner resources go to waste in the cause of peace. Our dialogue, which emphasizes the unity of different religious traditions, did not come a day too early. From here we can move towards a coalition of the world's religions to protect a common and God-blessed future.
Sheikh Al-Azhar Mohammed Tantawi (Islam)
(read by Dr. Ali Elsamman)
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
First of all, I would like to thank His Holiness Pope John Paul II, who today summoned the representatives of the various religions, all filled with the same ardent desire to build a better world. For our enlightenment on the way to peace, the Muslim faith offers us some clues that I would like to briefly explain here:
Allah created humanity starting from a father and a mother. In the Holy Scriptures, Allah declares: "O people, fear your Lord, who created you out of one being and out of him created his wife and out of them many men and women. And fear Allah, in whose name you ask one another, and your mother's womb. See, Allah is watching over you« (Sure 4, Women, 1).
All the monotheistic religions that God revealed to his venerable prophets agree on two essential points:
- in the devotional worship of the One and Only, as Allah says: “He has ordained you the faith which He prescribed to Noah and what We (Mohammed) revealed to you and to Abraham and Moses and Jesus prescribed:“ Keep the faith and do not part in him. 'Great is what you invite the idolaters to do. Allah chooses for whom He wills and guides to those who repentantly convert "(Sure 42, Advice, 13);
- with respect for values: Allah revealed the monotheistic religion for the happiness of mankind. The religions proclaim all ethical values such as righteousness, justice, peace, prosperity, the exchange of all good deeds approved by Allah and the cooperation of all peoples to promote goodness and mercy, but not offense and aggression.
Allah created us for this life so that we can get to know one another, for he says: O people, behold, We created you of one man and one woman and made you peoples and tribes so that you might know one another. Behold, the most learned of you before Allah is the most righteous of you; behold, Allah is Knowing and Knowing "(Sure 49, The apartments, 13).
All monotheistic religions proclaim that man must stand up for law and justice and defend the rightful claim of the owner. Al-Azhar al Sharif is happy to take this opportunity to express its appreciation to the Vatican and to thank it for the commendable support of the Palestinian people.
In Egypt, Muslims and Christians have lived in fraternal fellowship under the same sky, on the same ground, as equals before the law and with equal responsibilities for fourteen centuries. As the Holy Qur'an says, everyone should live their own religion: “There is no compulsion to believe. What is now clearly differentiated is right from error; and whoever denies the Tagut and believes in Allah, clings to the strongest handle in which there is no gap; and Allah is Hearing and Knowing "(Sure 2, The cow, 256).
* * *
On this day of common prayer, Al-Azhar and his ulema [Islamic legal and religious scholars, editor's note. Red.] With deep conviction the call for peace that is directly and inseparably linked to justice.
Rabbi Israel Singer (Judaism)
Only you could make something like this possible. John Paul II, only you could make this event happen; we have to support you in this.
»Great is the peace
for peace is the name of God. "
History shows that while the leaders of religions around the world speak of peace and countless sermons of peace as the ultimate goal of religions, they actually served to stir up thousands of horrific and bloody wars. Anyone who studies history and religion knows the innumerable wars that the great religions of Europe and Asia have waged against one another, and the battles fought throughout history between the various sects of these religions. To this day, people are fighting each other in Northern Ireland, Kashmir and Pakistan, and the Middle East.
We all clearly remember September 11th last year, when madmen raced three planes into both towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the name of religion. In a few minutes they killed thousands of people and sparked the first international military conflict of the 21st century.
We Jews emphasize that the concept of religious war does not play a central role in our religious tradition. Still, make no mistake - in our deeply bloody and tragic past we have occasionally had to defend ourselves and fight our enemies. But in battle, we did not see our scriptures as a justification for war, but as the religious basis of our actions. In numerous places in the Bible, God commands the Jews to fight the enemy in an emergency. Our religion is based on the concept »loÂ ’tehayyun kol neshamah«, According to which certain groups must be fought relentlessly and mercilessly. Also in the everlasting commandment »mah eni meheh et zakar amalek“This theme is clearly expressed in that order for a devastating war against the greatest evil embodied by Amalek - a fight in which there must be no prisoners, but all must be killed.
Yet military struggle is not an essential aspect of Judaism. The Jewish Bible, our oral law, our Talmud, our Midrashim and our rabbinical literature, they all emphasize the great importance of peace - both with one another and with our neighbors. We Jews are bound by an ideology, religion and philosophy based on concepts such as peace, goodness and brotherhood, views shared by other world religions, especially Christianity, which has adopted and adapted numerous aspects of the Jewish religion. Like the Christian New Testament, our Jewish scriptures teach not to hold grudges against those who have hurt us and to always seek ways of reconciliation and brotherly love. Even when we are sent out to fight our enemies, God requires us to first move them to bloodless, peaceful surrender. Only when this offer is turned down may we raise our weapons against them.Furthermore, the prophets have repeatedly presented us with a vision of the end of times, when swords will be turned into plowshares and all nations will live in peace.
War thus corresponds neither to our culture nor to our task, neither to our mission nor to our goal as Jews, and ultimately it is not the task of other religions in the world either. The peace talks held in the name of religion must not be stopped because they are based on the reality of all our religious ideals and are the highest goal we all strive for. We must reject those distortions of religious teachings that have been used in the past, and we must not support the assumption that violence against members of other religions or religious groups is religiously based.
We should remember that no religion encourages indiscriminate killing, and those who taught the contrary have abused and corrupted the religions on whose behalf they spoke. Pope John Paul II condemned the abuses used throughout history to justify violence against non-Christians.
Only through a serious dialogue and the genuine readiness of those in charge of the great religions to work concretely for peace, not only through declarations but through concrete sacrifices for peace, can we try to change the current situation of humanity. Pope John Paul II also demonstrated such an inner attitude in his efforts towards reconciliation with Judaism, through which he turned Judeo-Christian history. The path of pilgrims in search of peace could undoubtedly be an example that we should all follow.
»With regard to prayer, the Midrash says: no blessing is perfect without the word PEACE«(Bamidbar Raba).
His Beatitude Theoctist (Romanian Orthodox Church)
The Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church sent the message read by His Excellency Ioan Salagean, Bishop of Harghita and Covasna, with the following text:
Your Eminences and Excellencies,
honored representatives of other religions,
The Lord will give strength to his people and bless them with peace. The Christian churches, like other religions, have a duty to speak out together to point out the violation of the moral and spiritual principles which affirm all religions and which all believers live on a daily basis. Peace is a priority among these spiritual values, because faith can only be expressed in a climate of peace. For Christians, the incarnation of God in the person of Christ, who is man and God at the same time, is a moment of peace and universal reconciliation, proclaimed by the angels who proclaim this birth from heaven: »Glory to God high in heaven and peace on earth to those he loves.« (Lk 2, 14)
We greet him with the hope of salvation through the peace of heaven Day of Prayer for Peace, to which His Holiness Pope John Paul II has called at this time of worldwide turmoil and concern, a time when religions must show us that they understand the complex phenomena and each in their own particular way to preserve God's creation contribute and elevate people to the dignity that God has entrusted to them. (Ital. In O. R. January 25, 2002)
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