Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 28, 2010
Child soldiers 'a crime against humanity' – Dallaire
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
WINNIPEG - Retired general Senator Romeo Dallaire told a packed audience of religion leaders that the proliferation of child soldiers in world conflicts is a sin and a crime against humanity.
The old world order of the Cold War has been replaced by a "new world disorder," said Dallaire, the retired general who led the ill-fated UN peacekeeping forces during the mid-1990s genocide in Rwanda.
He warned of a "new, low-technology weapon" created in recent years - the child soldier. "With the proliferation of small arms, they can be very effective. There are more than 300,000 of them at any one time involved in 30 conflicts.
"This is not just a crime against humanity," insisted Dallaire. "It is a sin."
Dallaire was addressing some 71 delegates and 130 observers at the opening session of the World Religions Summit, June 21-23 at the University of Winnipeg.
He lamented the short-term thinking that drives today's political decision-makers.
"They are swimming in the complexity and ambiguity of our times. They are thinking of tomorrow's headlines, not of what will still be significant five years from now."
They need "the depth that faith provides," he said. The world is begging for visionary, not reactive, leadership.
Catholics worked alongside spiritual leaders from all major faith traditions as they gathered in Winnipeg to craft a statement to influence political leaders at the highest levels.
"The suffering of the poor is the starting point," said Alberto Quattrucci of the Sant'Egido Community in Rome at the opening ceremonies. "There is no struggle against poverty; there is solidarity with the poor.
"The Bible doesn't speak of poverty, but of the poor. They always have a name," he continued. "To build a society starting with the poor is to build a society sustainable for everyone."
But reducing everything to the lowest common denominator of the market, he said, represents "rebellion against God."
It was a fitting beginning to a gathering that aimed to send a clear message from the global religious community to the leaders of the G8 and G20 nations meeting the same week in Toronto and Huntsville, Ont., a message advocating justice for the poor, care for the planet and sustainable peace.
"Our job as people of faith is to announce what is politically unrealistic, and then make it realistic. The prophetic vocation is to proclaim the impossible and then make it possible," said Jim Wallis, founder of the Sojourners community, a U.S. Christian justice organization.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.