The 10th World Assembly of Religions for Peace
By Roberto Catalano.
Lindau welcomes 900 religious leaders
The island of Lindau recently hosted the 10th World Assembly of Religions for Peace. The title of the event was symptomatic: “Caring for our Common Future: Advancing Shared Well-Being”. Caring for the future, in fact, means just walking together and preparing a shared wellness, which today still seems very far away. The debate, perhaps unlike the past, was very concrete with well-defined and calibrated proposals at the end of the plenary sessions. A Protocol for Reconciliation was approved, prepared and experimented in recent years by different communities. In fact, they are aware that without forgiveness one cannot hope for a serene and peaceful future. There have also been concrete proposals, though, asking the States for a symbolic cut of their arms funds, to achieve a universal awareness of peace. The problem of conflict prevention and resolution – with concrete experiences in Asia and Africa – was also touched upon, as well as the situation and role of women, the real protagonists of dialogue in a religious milieu that is still under men’s dominion.
In this regard, a profoundly meaningful act was, for the first time in half a century, the appointment of a woman as the Organization’s General Secretary. Azza Karram, a Dutch woman of Egyptian origins, who has been active at the United Nations for years, is not only a woman but also a Muslim. A Muslim woman at the top of an organization for the promotion of dialogue between men and women of faith is undoubtedly a significant step. Recognizing the centrality of women in an international body for interreligious dialogue means enhancing their crucial role, which is not related to the ritual dimension or to religious and administrative leadership, but a promoter of dialogue out of a charism that John Paul II defined as “feminine genius”.
Obviously, the challenges remain and, over time, they are probably becoming even more complex, but the 10th World Assembly of Religions for Peace has confirmed an essential aspect for those who believe and live in dialogue: the need for continuity and fidelity. A crucial element that has come into light in these days is the tight network of relationships created over the last few decades that have often allowed us to solve local and international problems thanks to the trust built between many actors of this experience. Another element that we should not overlook: some delegates were raised at the school of the founding fathers and therefore carry the DNA of dialogue. This is what highlighted in the opening session the co-moderator of Religions for Peace, Ms. Kosho Niwano, who wanted to remember her grandfather, Nikkyo Niwano, and the importance of growing up at his side for her formation as a woman of dialogue. This is why she said she is not only a granddaughter of Nikkyo Niwano but also of Religions for Peace. The succession of generations is fundamental for human history as the book of Quolet teaches us. We all experienced it together at Lindau.
However, as I said, this General Assembly of Lindau was not made only of meetings and speeches. Under the general theme, “Taking care of our common future” we have been discussed four points, which became the object of the approval of the corresponding resolutions. How to “prevent the exploitation of religion that justifies violence”; collaborate with governments for the abolition of nuclear weapons; develop a shared “Alliance of Virtues” among religions; and support the “Interfaith Rainforest” initiative against deforestation and climate change. Important steps to work on over the next few years together with others.