War "in the Name of God" Doesn't Exist in Religion, Say Conferees

Symposium Views Ways to Maintain World Peace

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 20, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Interreligious cooperation, far from being an alternative, is a necessity for avoiding war, said conferees at a weekend symposium.

The symposium, organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue under the motto «Spiritual Resources of Religions for Peace,» attracted representatives of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism.

The symposium is a continuation of the resolution of the assembly organized by the same council in October 1999, on the topic «Toward the Third Millennium: Collaboration for Dialogue Between Religions,» and the interreligious Day of Prayer, organized last Jan. 24 by John Paul II in Assisi, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, attended the symposium, which ended Saturday. He explained to Vatican Radio the fundamental aspects that the various religions must observe to attain the common objective of peace and fraternity among men.

«We must verify first of all that we are making a correct reading of the sacred texts, which in each religion have principles of love and peace imprinted,» he said. «The call to war in the name of God does not belong to any religion.»

«The second task is that all religions cooperate together,» the archbishop said. «Finally, the third and last aspect is to subject governments repeatedly to our demands for peace.»

According to the cardinal, governments must be given an explanation of the principles that are included in a just war. «And, at this time, we do not have enough information to define it as such,» he said.

«I think that no one in the United States wants war; President Bush does not want it. We must know more before undertaking an action in which many people will die and other terrible events will take place,» Cardinal McCarrick stressed.

The religions attending the meeting proposed theses that underlined that every person belongs to the common human family.

Archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald, president of the pontifical council, said: «When people live together, they meet, work elbow to elbow, discuss. This creates an atmosphere of trust, which makes it difficult to separate afterward and to say, ‘We are at war.'»

His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, Latin-rite patriarch of Jerusalem, was scheduled to attend the closing of the symposium, but was unable to leave Tel Aviv airport. He was stopped due to Israeli security controls, despite his Vatican diplomatic passport.

Nevertheless, the Latin patriarch’s speech was read. In it he emphasized the importance of religions in the Middle East. It is their role, the text said, «to bring hope and reconciliation at a time in which these seem to be an unattainable miracle.»

Pope Paul VI established the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in 1964, in keeping with the Second Vatican Council, particularly its declaration «Nostra Aetate

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