Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 18, 2002
War no solution to terrorism -- Henry
Root causes must be tackled, he tells Catholic Conference
By RAMON GONZALEZ
"Each faith community needs to promote a respect for human life above all other benefits and interests."
- Bishop Fred Henry
The current crisis also demands a more inventive and resourceful response from religious leaders, Henry said.
"Given the role of religion as a potentially mobilizing force in recruiting would-be terrorists we need to see and hear more from religious leaders than pious denunciations and interfaith peace gatherings that we witness today."
Henry recalled that during the conflict in Bosnia UN Secretary General Koffi Annan spoke of the need to restore religion to its rightful role as a peacemaker and pacifier.
"I think it's questionable as to whether or not religion has ever fulfilled that role," the bishop said. To do so now, the world's religious leaders would first need to acknowledge the ambivalence of their own religious traditions towards violence.
"The fact that all major faiths, Catholicism included, have at times sanctioned the use of force to protect and even to promote their own sectarian interests allows religious terrorists today to claim more justification for their actions," he said.
"It is not enough for religious leaders to disown the unacceptable actions of their fringe groups. What I believe we have to do is each faith community needs to promote a respect for human life above all other beliefs and interests. Until this happens religion will always have the potential to be a divisive and destructive force in the world."
To speak of the need for tolerance is also wholly inadequate when considering that terror is perpetrated in God's name, Henry said. The concept of tolerance was developed essentially as a reaction to the growth of pluralism in belief and practice.
"But the crisis today in our global human relationships calls for a much more proactive approach to diversity. It demands from those within faith and those outside of it to acknowledge and protect more vigorously the rights of others to think, to believe and to act differently."
Terrorism is one of three challenges and core issues facing the Church as it tackles the phenomenon of globalization, Henry said. The others are world trade and the unpayable debt of the poorest countries of the world.
"If we are to create a new world order we need to confront these three issues," the bishop said. "We need to develop concepts to address the reality that we are facing."
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