Interreligious Group Proposes Steps Toward Peace

Posted on 26 August 2006 at 3:53 pm in Mundania.

The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions has been consistent in upholding its mission statement and in providing a forum for these kinds of interactions to occur, proving that indeed there are non-violent methods of conflict resolution; it works. Let peace begin. So be it.

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Four steps toward lasting peace in the Middle East has been proposed by the Board of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) this week.

The short- and -long-term steps proposed are:

* immediate humanitarian relief for civilian populations affected together with rebuilding of civilian infrastructure;

* a negotiated return of prisoners now being held by rival sides;

* an encouragement to religious leaders of the region to take a lead in resolving outstanding disputes; and

* an invitation to spiritual communities world-wide to address “the fissures and tensions in the inter-religious movement that have developed as a result of this conflict.”

The members of the Council’s Board of Trustees, who issued a statement with the proposed steps, represent the major religious and spiritual traditions in the world. The statement mourns the deaths that have occurred and are occurring among the Lebanese, Israelites, and Palestinians and welcomes UN Resolution 1701 calling “for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to monitor the truce.”

It states: “In an increasingly interdependent world, the well-being of all peoples is interconnected. In such a world, the smallest unit of survival is, indeed, the whole human family.” The statement begins: “Hatred is never ended by hatred but by
mutual understanding and regard. Peace is at once the destination and the path. These convictions come from the deepest beliefs of the world’s religious and spiritual communities.” It continues: “We commit ourselves to the nonviolent resolution of antagonisms through dialogue and negotiation, diplomacy and compromise.”

In a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan enclosing the statement, Board Chair William E. Lesher wrote: “The statement welcomes the recently adopted UN resolution 1701. It looks forward to the weeks ahead when this delicately negotiated resolution will require great restraint, positive international engagement and a spiritual commitment to peace if the diplomatic achievement arrived at in New York is to take effect on the ground in the Middle East.”

Council Trustees reported it took many days of discussions to produce the statement and that members indicated they had not seen such strong differences among their contacts as this escalation of the Middle Eastern conflict had aroused.

The Council has hosted three modern Parliaments attracting 7,000 to 9,000 participants (Chicago, 1993, Cape Town, 1999, Barcelona, 2004). It dates its founding from the first Parliament in 1893 at Chicago’s Columbian Exposition. The next event will be in 2009 at a site to be determined. The mission of CPWR is to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its other guiding institutions in order to achieve a peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Statement of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions on the Current Conflict in the Middle East

Peace is at once the destination and the path. Hatred is never ended by hatred but only by mutual understanding and regard. These convictions come from the deepest beliefs of the world’s religious and spiritual communities. We, members of the Board of Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of World Religions, grieve at the continuing violence and the loss of life and civilian infrastructure and damage to the earth in Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. We mourn the many deaths that have occurred and pray that the violence may end soon. All human lives are sacred and must be respected. In an increasingly interdependent world, the well-being of all peoples is interconnected. In such a world, the smallest unit of survival is indeed the whole human family.

We are convinced that real security cannot be achieved by war and violence, but only by a respect for human rights and by a spirit of cooperation and tolerance. The recent conflict in the Middle East demonstrates yet again that violence only begets further violence in a never-ending spiral that has no victors but only victims. Towards a Global Ethic:

An Initial Declaration presented to the 1993 Parliament affirms a strong commitment to a culture of non-violence and mutual respect. We commit ourselves to the nonviolent resolution of antagonisms through dialogue and negotiation, diplomacy and compromise. We, therefore, welcome the UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to monitor the truce. Once a ceasefire is fully in place, we propose a series of short- and -long-term steps that might help the region move toward a more lasting peace:

Immediate humanitarian relief for the civilian populations of the countries affected together with the rebuilding of civilian infrastructure.

A negotiated return of prisoners now being held by the rival sides.

An encouragement by the Parliament to the religious leaders of the region to come together to invoke their common heritage, to denounce religiously-motivated violence, and to take the lead in attempting to resolve outstanding disputes.

An invitation to spiritual communities world-wide to address the fissures in the interreligious movement that have developed as a result of this conflict.

The situation in the Middle East is very serious; it threatens the peace and security not just of that region but of the whole world. It is our hope that the steps we have outlined might help to defuse tensions and provide a calmer environment within which the peoples concerned can work out their differences peacefully and constructively. To this effort the Parliament commits its full support.
Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions
70 E. Lake St, Suite 205, Chicago, IL 60601, USA
e-mail: info@cpwr.org website: www.cpwr.org
August 18, 2006
Contact: Emily Chou, 312-629-2990 ext. 244

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