Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 30, 2006
Peace among religions key to world peace, says Roche
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The world will not have peace until there is peace among religions, retired Senator Douglas Roche told the Building World Peace Conference.
Since the beginning of history, human beings have been at war with one another, often under the pretext of religion, ideology and ethnicity.
"Today we are confronted with the problem of international terrorism, which misuses religious ideas for perverse ideological purposes, kills innocent people indiscriminately and spreads fear and horror throughout the world," Roche told more than 500 people at the Shaw Conference Centre Oct. 20.
"Let us at the outset, categorically reject the exploitation, abuse and misuse of religion as justification for hate, oppression and terrorism.
"Let us proclaim that God is a name of peace and cannot be used as an argument for killing innocent people. Let us affirm that no religion has been founded on violence and intolerance."
Roche, who chaired the peace conference, is an Edmonton author, diplomat and advocate of nuclear non-proliferation who has spent the last 30 years specializing in peace and security issues.
In his opening address, entitled Healing a Suffering Humanity, Roche said all religions value the sanctity of human life and teach the essence of the culture of peace: Do not do unto others what you do not want done to you.
"Christianity," for example, "says that we should love our neighbour as ourselves," he said. "Islam declares that killing one person unjustly is the same as killing all of humanity."
History shows that the true shapers of past cultures and civilizations have not been political leaders so much as spiritual leaders such as Confucius, Buddha, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, St. Paul and Mohammed.
"Their teachings have shaped values and ethics, informed social systems and evaluated the justice and injustice of political, economic and social systems," Roche said.
"Yet today secularization and a new faith in science and technology have replaced religion as the shaper of civilization. And virtually all religions have been infected by fundamentalists who pervert religion to sanction murder."
All religious communities must demonstrate that their values, standards and attitudes can end conflict and create the conditions for peace, Roche said.
"Religions need to answer the charge that they are the root cause of the hatred and fanaticism that continues to motivate terrorist attacks."
The fractures of the modern world brought about by the culture of war make it imperative that religions now rise above denominationalism and speak out to build the conditions for peace, the retired senator said.