Creating a culture of peace requires religions to engage in both thought and action, said Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States.
The archbishop was the main speaker at a conference on the theme “Creating a Culture of Peace: What Religions Can Do,” held at The Lay Centre on 11 May.
The conference was part of a six-day study abroad program, facilitated by The Lay Centre, for 28 students from England’s Cambridge Muslim College and the Centre for Islamic Theology at Germany’s Tubingen University.
Archbishop Gallagher said there are limits to the political process in peace-making, noting that peace is also a spiritual goal, built on solidarity.
Religions can help to build a culture of peace through education and by engaging in reflection and in works peace, he said.
First, he said, peace “is constructed in the mind.” Religious leaders and people of faith are called to reflect upon and to develop appropriate ethics for war and peace, he explained.
Second, people of faith must engage in concrete action for peace. He offered the international Pax Christi movement as an example. He also emphasized the importance of prayers both for peace and for one’s enemies. He also noted the importance of dialogue.
The archbishop recognized that “religion can be manipulated and it is to justify extremism and violence.” When it is, religious leaders “must be swift to condemn it,” he added.
Furthermore, religious leaders have a responsibility to promote tolerance and not to misrepresent religions, he said.
Read a report on the conference by Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service.
Below are more photos from the conference and reception that followed. (All photos: Hansol Goo)