Faith communities have role to play in making peace

  • October 17, 2008
{mosimage}TORONTO - If people of faith are serious about peace, they ought to be serious enough to read, understand and promote the United Nations’ doctrine for promoting peace in the post-9/11 world, retired senator and former United Church moderator Lois Wilson told an interfaith gathering at the University of Toronto Oct. 7.

“We have social and political responsibilities,” Wilson insisted to a small group that included imams, rabbis, priests, ministers and scholars of world religions gathered for a conference on “Religions’ Role in Keeping Peace: Responses to A Common Word Between Us and You.”
The Canadian-led effort to create the UN’s “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine is an important initiative if only because it represents an alternative to the American-led war on terror, said Wilson. It also represents an opportunity for religions of the world to see their most basic moral tenets applied in statecraft, she said.

“Faith communities have a responsibility to restore some credibility to the political process,” Wilson said.

Wilson’s remarks echoed a similar speech by the Holy See’s representative to the UN, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, to the UN General Assembly Sept. 29.

“It is incumbent not only upon states, but also the United Nations, to ensure that the Responsibility to Protect serves as the underlying measure and motivation of all its work,” said Migliore.

Individual parishes and faith communities should, at a minimum, encourage people to read and understand the Responsibility to Protect Outcome Document, said Wilson.

The interfaith conference focussed on the role of religions in peace-building. It is an opportunity for religious people to put their words about peace into action locally, said recent Regis College master of divinity graduate Rachel Nazareth.

“To be able to see the work that’s going on, for me it’s useful,” Nazareth said. “This is the type of work I want to get into.”

As one of the most culturally and religiously diverse cities in the world, Toronto is the right place to begin an interfaith dialogue about peace, Nazareth said.

“It’s the most important place to do this. We’re here in the most multicultural city in the world,” she said.

Nazareth would like to see groups like the conference sponsor, the National Muslim Christian Liaison Committee, develop programs and materials for peace studies in Ontario’s Catholic and public schools.

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