Thursday, 30 December 2010

Religious Freedom and World Peace

Pope Benedict’s new year’s message for World Peace Day to world leaders  “Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace” made special mention of the “theatre of violence and strife” in Iraq and the deadly attack on a Syrian Catholic church in Baghdad Oct. 31 this year. In his message the Pope stressed that “Religious freedom is an authentic weapon of peace” which fosters the human qualities and potentials that “can change the world and make it better”.

While most people will readily agree with the basic sentiments behind the Pope’s call for world peace readers should be aware of the religious politics concealed behind the Pope’s message.

The greatest battle at Vatican II took place over the Declaration on Religious Freedom. The schema was bitterly contested by those who followed the traditional argument that ‘error has no rights’ and who therefore wanted the Church to continue maintaining that in predominantly Catholic countries it should in principle be able to prohibit the practise or spread of religions that it considered false.

Now that a Catholic minority is under attack in Iraq and Syria the Pope issues calls for religious freedom where previously this was not considered advantageous. This double standard apparently also does not apply to silenced Catholic theologians, collegiality versus infallibility, equality for women, and people practising different lifestyles. This may be a good time to reflect on Catholic theologian Hans Kung’s vision of hope:

  • No peace among the nations without peace among the religions

  • No peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions

  • No dialogue between the religions without global ethical standards

  • No survival of our globe without a global ethic.
HERE is a way to achieve world peace in an instant:


The Sufi Bayazid says this about himself:   

"/ was a revolutionary when I was young and all my prayer to God was 'Lord, give me the energy to change the world.'

"As I approached middle age and realized that half my life was gone without my changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to 'Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come in contact with me. Just my family and friends, and I shall be satisfied.'

"Now that I am an old man and my days are numbered, my one prayer is, 'Lord, give me the grace to change myself.' If I had prayed for this right from the start I should not have wasted my life. "  - Anthony de Mello, The Song of the Bird,
Image Books, 1984

No comments: