Religious peace conference held under the theme of Religions and Cultures in Dialogue 100 Years after WWI.
As part of its work on religion and conflict, ACCORD was recently represented at the Community of Sant’Egidio’s peace conference, which took place from 7 to 9 September 2014 in Belgium.
The peace meeting, annually hosted by the Sant’Egidio Community since its establishment in 1968, was held in Antwerp this year. Belgium was chosen because of its central role in World War I, which started a century ago, and Antwerp because of its international and multi-religious character. Over three days, about 350 representatives of different religions met in the opening ceremony and in 25 panel discussions of several hours each. The conference theme was PEACE is the FUTURE: Religions and Cultures in Dialogue 100 Years after World War I. Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, emphasised that the idea of the meeting was not to develop into a kind of United Nations of Religions, but mainly to enter into and stay in dialogue with each other. He said that religions can indeed help to end and prevent regional conflicts.
The conference’s Appeal for Peace 2014, which was presented at the closing ceremony and signed by the religious leaders, was not at all on the wavelength of mere pacifism. It included statements as the following:
Religions are called to question themselves: were they able to inspire the quest for a common destiny or were they caught up in a logic of conflict? The elimination of the other exploiting God’s name is only horror and terror. It sets people outside authentic religion, blinded by hatred, and destroys the religion they claim to defend.
ACCORD’s Senior Researcher Jannie Malan attended the conference and had the opportunity to share and discuss his paper, entitled ‘External religion and conflict, or internal religion and coexistence?’, which will be published by ACCORD in late 2014.