“There is a need for a common and cooperative effort on the part of the religions in promoting an integral ecology. Religions have the wherewithal to further a moral covenant that can promote respect for the dignity of the human person and care for creation”.
This was a message that Pope Francis, prior to greeting the crowds at St Peter Square, addressed to the 80 delegates of Religions for Peace accompanied by Cardinal Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The Pope expressed his “esteem and appreciation for the work of “Religions for Peace”. You provide a valuable service to both religion and peace, for the religions are bound by their very nature to promote peace through justice, fraternity, disarmament and care for creation”.
The conference dealt with various issues regarding an “integral ecology” and the speakers included Rev. Kosho Niwano, President-Designate of the Buddhist Movement Rissho Kosei-kai; Professor Anantanand Rambachan, Hindu; His Eminence Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, President of the “Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies; Rabbi David Rosen, Director of Interreligious Affairs, American Jewish Committee. Also Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement and Co-President of Religions for Peace gave an address. She said: “I represent a Movement whose commitment in many areas of human life is rooted in a strong spirituality. This spirituality is founded on the awareness that God is father of every man and woman on earth and therefore, since all people are brothers and sisters, they belong to the same human family. This basic equality among all people urges us to do all we can to build true fraternity, as much as possible, wherever we find ourselves.”
She went on to say, “For over 70 years, we have experienced that every person of good will can share this commitment and this perception. Because in every culture and religion we can find the Golden Rule which invites us to “Do to others as you would have them do to you” and “not do to others what we would not have done to us.
“This means that we need “to treat people of other ethnicities as we would wish to be treated; to see people of other religions as we would wish to be seen; to value and appreciate other countries as we would wish our own country to be valued and appreciated; and to work for the protection of the environment in our own context and in other contexts as if that place were truly our own home, anywhere in the world.
“These attitudes can permeate our life as individuals and as communities, both at local and international levels, generating a positive current in a world fraught by tensions and divisions of all kinds. In fact, we see that practising their faith in depth leads young people of various religions, who live mutual understanding, to discover fraternity, to share their goods, to work for the development of poorer areas, to respect nature and not waste resources.”
“Therefore, as Members of the Focolare Movement, concluded Maria Voce, “we wish to continue working with other groups, organisations, movements and communities, in new ways according to the needs of our times, but always with the same spirit, the spirit of love, mercy and compassion that inspires all our faiths.”
 (Luke 6:31)