In Rome, the search for world peace rang a bell

Sunday Trust - - VIEWPOINT COMMENT & DEBATE - By Bon­aven­ture Me­lah Me­lah can be reached through boname­lah123@gmail.com

From the be­gin­ning of time, the search for peace has been a ma­jor headache af­flict­ing cre­ation as stronger in­di­vid­u­als im­pose their will on weaker neigh­bours, the same with strong and weak na­tions. One of the great­est teach­ings of Je­sus Christ was the Beat­i­tudes, which was de­liv­ered on the Mount, where he laid out the cen­tral facets of the way of life ex­pected of those who fol­low him which should be char­ac­terised by peace, rather than its di­rect op­po­site, vi­o­lence or even war. “Blessed are the peace­mak­ers, for they shall be called sons of God,” he had told his lis­ten­ers (Mathew 5:9). Years later, Apos­tle Paul re-echoed the sig­nif­i­cance of peace when he wrote that Chris­tians should do what­ever pos­si­ble to “live peace­ably with all men” (Ro­mans 12:18).

Apart from Chris­tian­ity, all other known re­li­gions and faiths preach the need for hu­man­ity to live in peace with­out which ad­her­ents are less likely to make mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tions to ex­is­tence. The need for peace has equally both­ered gov­ern­ments of na­tions, com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­lies, be­cause the world has wit­nessed and is still liv­ing with avoid­able con­flicts, vi­o­lence and wars that have com­bined to ruin lives, de­stroyed thou­sands of cities and ren­dered mil­lions of peo­ple home­less. In spite of th­ese, the search for peace is still of para­mount im­por­tance to all men of good­will.

It is per­haps it is this rel­e­vance of peace to hu­man de­vel­op­ment that made the Catholic Pon­tiff, Pope Fran­cis, to wel­come with open hands a del­e­ga­tion of 80 mem­bers of “Re­li­gions for Peace” who paid him a visit in the Vat­i­can, fol­low­ing their meet­ing in Rome on Oc­to­ber 19, 2017.Among the del­e­gates were the Catholic Arch Bishop of Abuja, John Car­di­nal Onaiyekan and the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Pin­na­cle Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Lim­ited, Sir Ba­batunde Lucky Omoluwa, who is a mem­ber of Board of Trustees of the world body.

The Pope told them that “Re­li­gions, with their spir­i­tual and moral re­sources, have a spe­cific and unique role to play in build­ing peace,” adding that “They can­not be neu­tral, much less am­bigu­ous, where peace is con­cerned.”

“Peace re­mains an ur­gent task in to­day’s world, where so many peo­ple are scarred by war and con­flict. Peace is both a di­vine gift and a hu­man achieve­ment. This is why be­liev­ers of all re­li­gions are called to im­plore peace and in­ter­cede for it. All men and women of good­will par­tic­u­larly those in po­si­tions of re­spon­si­bil­ity, are sum­moned to work for peace with their hearts, minds and hands. For peace has to be “crafted. In this ef­fort, peace­mak­ers and the pur­suit of jus­tice go to­gether,” Pope Fran­cis said.

“Re­li­gions for Peace (RFP),” is a Global Net­work and the world’s largest and most rep­re­sen­ta­tive multi-coali­tion which ad­vances com­mon ac­tion among the world’s re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties for peace. The or­gan­i­sa­tion works to trans­form vi­o­lent con­flict, ad­vance hu­man de­vel­op­ment, pro­mote just and har­mo­nious so­ci­eties and pro­tect the earth. The Net­work com­prises a world coun­cil of senior re­li­gious lead­ers from all re­gions of the world, six re­gional in­ter-re­li­gious bod­ies and more than 90 na­tional ones. The Global Women of Faith Net­work and the Global In­ter­faith Youth Net­work are also part of the RFP. Its in­ter­na­tional trustees are made up of lay in­di­vid­u­als from 14 dif­fer­ent coun­tries that per­son­ally sup­port RFP work through the pro­vi­sion of needed com­pe­tences, net­work­ing and re­source mo­bi­liza­tion. Sir Lucky Omoluwa is a mem­ber of the Trustees of this world body.

Domi­ciled at the Church Cen­tre for the United Na­tions in New York, RFP is com­mit­ted to build­ing con­sen­sus on pos­i­tive as­pects of peace as well as con­crete ac­tions to stop war, help elim­i­nate ex­treme poverty and pro­tect the earth. The ac­tions of the or­ga­ni­za­tion are not fash­ioned af­ter re­li­gious sec­tar­i­an­ism but are multi-re­li­gious and “pub­lic” in char­ac­ter. The var­i­ous groups that make up RFP are led by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of di­verse re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties and de­signed to pro­vide plat­form for co­op­er­a­tive ac­tion through­out the dif­fer­ent lev­els of th­ese re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties from grass­roots to the senior-lead­er­ship. They also serve as bridges be­tween dif­fer­ent re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties that can help build trust, re­duce hos­til­ity in ar­eas of con­flict as well as pro­vide plat­form for com­mon pos­i­tive ac­tion.

Some of the unique fea­tures of RFP method of op­er­a­tion are prac­ti­cal­ity and open­ness to con­tin­u­ous cre­ativ­ity through which it as­sist re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties to cor­re­late or work out a con­nec­tion be­tween their ca­pac­i­ties for ac­tion and spe­cific chal­lenges such as vi­o­lent threat to peace. This ap­proach helps to dis­close large, of­ten hid­den or un­der-uti­lized ca­pac­i­ties for ac­tion that lie within the prox­im­ity of re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties as well as iden­tify the unique ad­van­tages of multi-re­li­gious co­op­er­a­tion while work­ing out the kinds of ca­pac­ity build­ing needed for ef­fec­tive multi-re­li­gious ac­tion.

Founded in 1970, the vi­sion of the or­ga­ni­za­tion is to see the world re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties co-op­er­ate ef­fec­tively for peace. It is com­mit­ted to lead­ing ef­forts to ad­vance multi-re­li­gious co-op­er­a­tion for peace on global, re­gional, na­tional and lo­cal lev­els while en­sur­ing that re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties are or­ga­nized on th­ese same lev­els and ex­er­cise ap­pro­pri­ate lead­er­ship and own­er­ship of such ef­forts. To achieve its set ob­jec­tives and goals, RFP en­sures that in ad­di­tion to di­a­logue, con­crete ac­tions are taken when and where nec­es­sary to­wards the trans­for­ma­tion of vi­o­lent con­flicts, pro­mo­tion of just and har­mo­nious so­ci­eties, ad­vance­ment of hu­man de­vel­op­ment and pro­tec­tion of the earth.

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