Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 6, 2006
Religion must stir Peace, not violence, says Roche
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Mass murders, suicide bombings, invading wars and other acts of violence are shattering lives of innocent people around the world. Too often, these acts of violence are committed in the name of religion.
It is time for faith communities to understand they must play a role in countering this violence which has become a hallmark of the modern world, says retired senator Douglas Roche.
"Religion should not be misused as an instrument for division and injustice, betraying the very ideals that lie at the heart of each of the world's great religions," Roche told about 120 university students Jan. 31.
"Religion must find a way for its spiritual traditions to have their diverse communities work in harmony for the common good."
Roche made these comments at the University of Alberta's International Week 2006. He and others were there to launch a conference to examine the role of religion in helping to end the violence.
The conference, Building World Peace: The Role of Religions and Human Rights, will be held at the Shaw Conference Centre Oct. 20-22. The John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights is sponsoring the event.
Taking the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a model, the conference will examine ways that religion can overcome violence of all types through dialogue, reconciliation and other measures of social interaction, said Roche, who is the conference's chair.
Archbishop-emeritus Joseph MacNeil and Sister Rosaleen Zdunich are among the conference's advisors.
Speakers at the event will include Roche, an author, parliamentarian and diplomat specializing in peace and security issues, Alberta Senator and conference co-chair Claudette Tardif, General John de Chastelain, a retired Canadian general who recently oversaw the decommissioning of the Irish Republican Army, and Senator Romeo Dallaire, a retired general who served in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide.
Religious communities are the largest and best-organized civil institutions in the world today and therefore the best equipped to meet the modern challenges of resolving conflicts, caring for the sick and needy, and promoting peaceful co-existence among all people, Roche said.
"The fractures of the modern world brought about by terrorism and the culture of war make it imperative that religions now rise above denominationalism and, with the full force of the teaching of love and reciprocity that underscores all religions, speak out to build the conditions for peace," he said.
"Religion cannot become the state. But religion must inspire the state. It must do it not through triumphalism, but through humility."