Religions for Peace: A Call for Unity to the People of the World

Overview

In this heartfelt, cogently argued manifesto, Francis Cardinal Arinze addresses one of the most important issues of our time–the compelling need to foster understanding and respect among followers of different religious beliefs.

The shocking attack on New York City and Washington, D.C., forced the leaders of every faith to face hard-hitting questions about the role of religion in a world increasingly torn apart by unrest, violence, and war. All religions of the world extol ...

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Overview

In this heartfelt, cogently argued manifesto, Francis Cardinal Arinze addresses one of the most important issues of our time–the compelling need to foster understanding and respect among followers of different religious beliefs.

The shocking attack on New York City and Washington, D.C., forced the leaders of every faith to face hard-hitting questions about the role of religion in a world increasingly torn apart by unrest, violence, and war. All religions of the world extol peace, yet in many instances religious beliefs are seen as the very source of humanity's conflicts. In Religions for Peace, Cardinal Arinze explores what the various religions can do to actually promote peace.

As the head of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, Cardinal Arinze has met with religious leaders from around the world. Drawing on his vast experience and his deep-seated faith, he offers insights and ideas that could prove to be the catalyst for a new era of inter-religious cooperation the world so desperately needs. He writes on issues ranging from safeguarding the world’s children, to protecting the environment, to promoting efforts for disarmament. At its core, his message emphasizes that the fundamental requirement for peace is respect for the human right to religious freedom.

Written by one of the important religious leaders in the world today, Religions for Peace provides thoughtful, real-life answers to questions that once seemed highly abstract. Resounding with a refreshing awareness of people of all backgrounds, it is a book that is needed more than ever today.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Whatever one's perspective on religion, the events of September 11 have convinced even skeptics to take seriously the role of religion in world affairs. Here, Nigerian-born Arinze reminds readers of the power religions have when they engage in prayer, joint initiatives for peace and other acts of solidarity. He encourages religious leaders to "conscientize" their followers, as well as to foster the study of other religions. Peace, he reminds us, has no religious frontiers; rather, all religions must contribute to a common peace. As head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Arinze provides examples of such contributions from his own experience. In particular, he usefully references many important interfaith gatherings and initiatives, as well as teachings and peace programs from the Catholic Church. For Arinze, interreligious dialogue is not simply an appeal to what religions have in common. Instead, participants are to speak with integrity from their own respective normative traditions, even as differences arise. Unfortunately, in asserting the voice of his own tradition, Arinze curtails the dialogue by defining religion in largely Christian terms and by imposing official positions of the Catholic Church (religions for peace, he avers, will oppose abortion). Moreover, in failing to adequately distinguish religious fundamentalism (a literalist reading of sacred texts) from the violent implications of religious extremism, he excludes important dialogue partners from fundamentalist traditions. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385504607
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/22/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 146
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 7.82 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Cardinal Francis Arinze was born in Nigeria and converted to Catholicism at the age of nine. He was ordained seventeen years later and was elevated to the position of Cardinal by Pope John II in 1985. He is the head of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue
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Read an Excerpt

1 Understanding Peace

The Essence of Peace
When we say "peace" we mean the tranquility of order. We mean that situation of justice and rightly ordered social relationships that is marked by respect for the rights of others, that provides favorable conditions for integral human growth, and that allows citizens to live out their lives to the full in calm and joyful development.

The peace we are talking about, therefore, has such components as freedom, truth, and stability. It includes the integral development of the human person, of the whole person, and of all persons. It implies interdependence between people, an interdependence that is not just tolerated but is freely accepted and generously lived. In short, true peace rests upon mutual love and benevolence between people and serene society in which these people live.

Peace, therefore, is a very positive concept. It is not mere passiveness. Rather it is an active component to establishing order that will be a source of tranquility. This attituded is greatly helped by a recognition that all human beings belong to one family, that they have one Creator and a single origin, that human nature is the same in all people, that they have all been redeemed by Jesus Christ, and that they are all called to the same final destiny.

Within this human family, the will of God the Creator is that each person should respect the rights of others and be willing to work with them as fellow pilgrims on the journey of life. But this respect for the rights of others flows from the spirit of justice, and therefore justice is absolutely necessary for true and lasting peace. This justice can manifest itself,for example, in respect for life from the moment of conception right up to the natural death, in respect for the right to religious freedom for individuals and for groups, and in the elimination of discrimination against people because of their language, social status, ethnic origin, color, or sex. It also shows itself through respect for the equality of citizens, especially as exercised by civil administrators.

Peace is Not a Negative Concept
Peace is therefore not a negative concept. It is no mere absence of war. It is much more than that. If a country spends heavily on its army and on instruments of war, piles up sophisticated weapons including nuclear arms, and then turns around and tells us that it is doing all this in order to preserve peace in the world, we are really being presented with another understanding of peace. What the country really means is that it is piling up weapons of destruction in order to discourage or even defeat or damage severely any other country perceived as a competitor, a threat, or a danger. This is the same as saying that by a buildup of terror, its aim is to frighten any other country away from the idea of attacking it. If that country behaves in a similar way, we have a perfect case of a balance of terror. This is not peace.

The ancient Romans had a proverb: "If you want peace, prepare for war." That may look wise in the face of an apparently incurable human propensity to resort to arms as one of the most primitive ways to try to settle a conflict. But to accept this thesis as inevitable would be to regard human society as a terrible jungle full of wild animals in which the stronger attack and eat the weaker. But a more careful consideration of the moral, religious, and cultural heights to which human beings can rise, advises us that a more optimistic view of human nature is viable.

There is another state of tension, sometimes called "the war of nerves." It does not consist necessarily in the imminent explosion of armaments, but in a constant fear of this that eventually wrecks the nerves of the parties concerned. Obviously the existence of such a war of nerves is not a situation of peace. Even the mere absence of such a state of fear would not be enough to qualify for peace.

Peace is something really positive. It has to include a certain tranquility of mind and heart that guarantees security. It is the peace of which the prophet Isaiah speaks: "Integrity will bring peace, justice gives lasting
security. My people will live in a peaceful home, in safe houses, in quiet dwellings" (Is 32:17-18). Jesus Christ promises this peace to his followers as a divine gift: "Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you" (Jn 14:27).

The Desire of the Human Heart
Peace is the desire of the human heart. The unfettered human aspiration is toward respect for one's rights and those of others and the recognition that other human beings are unique individuals who should never be reduced to means or considered as mere instruments, but who should be respected and accepted as persons, as subjects of rights and duties.

All peoples, languages, cultures, religions, and social groupse understand peace and have a special word for it. They appreciate the meaning of wholeness, health, safety, security, well-being, justice, order, calm, and the fulfillment of desire. They do not want disturbance, disorder, insecurity, instability in society, abnormal conditions, tension, violence or war. Moreover, they do not want to labor under oppression, injustice, or violation of rights, nor to suffer from underdevelopment.

The human spirit, or the human heart in popular language, is most important in our consideration of where peace, or the lack of it, originates. War does not lie primarily in armaments or missiles. It arises from the human heart. The human conscience, convictions, systems of thought to which one is bound, form the seedbed of war or peace. It is in the conscience or heart that one is sensitive to the absolute values of goodness, justice, rectitude, brotherhood, and peace. It is also in the depths of the heart that a person can reject or ignore the appeals of these absolutes.



Copyright 2002 by Francis Cardinal Arinze
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