A “common pact” of religions and diplomacy to eradicateviolence and build peace in the world was the appeal launched last week at an international congress “Religions and Violence.”
The appeal came from Marco Impagliazzo, president of the Catholic lay Sant’Egidio Community which organized the congress, and Jerry White, a diplomat of the U.S. State Department known for his international campaign against anti-personnel mines, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. Attending the congress were religious and political personalities of European, Asian, African and Middle Eastern diplomacy.
The congress began with consideration from Cardinal Walter Kasper, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity: “In the last few years religious violence has increased in an impressive way.” This has happened because “members of all religions, including Christians — it can be said persons or groups who pretend to act in the name of a religion or of Christianity — have been or are supporters of violence.”
In this context, the congress took up a diversified focus. The collapse of the Twin Towers was recalled by the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, as the image of a “violence colored by religiosity,” almost as if religions “can be violent by principle.” Intervening immediately after was Abdelfattah Mourou, vice-president of the Ennahdha Movement, winner of the elections in Tunisia and architect of the new Constitution which is one of the most mature fruits of the Arab Spring, who indicated that violence, including that between States, “has preceded religion” and perhaps has made use of it. Therefore, it is the task of religions to recover their autonomy and to contribute to the building of peace by fostering culture, values and education.
Likewise, Muhammad Masud, member of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, denied that religion is “part of the violence,” but admitted that it can be used “to justify violence.” Therefore, an effort must be made “to clarify this confusion”, through a “new theology of support of cooperation between States instead of the domination of one over another.”
Impagliazzo said that “to attain the objective of peace in the post-ideological and globalized world in which we live, traditional diplomacy needs new instruments that affect all dimension of life: religion in the first place, then politics, culture, the struggle for development. The whole civil society must be committed in the effort to overcome old differences if not real and proper conflicts that are at the origin of the explosions of violence and terrorism which have bloodied the
Moreover, Jerry White pointed out that “traditional diplomacy has discovered how religions can contribute to the construction of an ‘ecosystem’ of peace, by injecting the virus of peace in a world infected by ‘an epidemic of violence.’”
Also expressing his opinion was Catalan theologian Armand Puig, of the Faculty of Theology of Barcelona: “Violence can never be justified; that is why it always needs justifications. Peace, however, does not need to justify itself, it must not ask permission to enter in the avenues of history.”
For his part, Lebanese Samir Frangieh, intellectual and former parliamentarian of Beirut, explained that “religions, even in their diversity, have a common mission: to make men understand that they are condemned to cooperate together to survive, and that their relations with one another are not an option to choose or reject but a need to recognize.”