It is not possible to construct peace without the contribution of the religions. In recent there have been many appeals from high level religious and civil leaders like Shimon Peres, with his idea for a “UN of Religions” as an antidote to global terrorism and violence, or the interreligious meetings like the one recently promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio.
Another important push was offered by the 8th Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP) that was held in Incheon, South Korea on August 25-29, 2014. There could not have been a better place for sending a message about unity and reconciliation among lands and peoples. In spite of its being the cradle of the main monotheistic religions, the container of a vast cultural diversity, Asia has been above all a theatre of war for many major conflicts.
The Focolare has also offered a contribution: Christina Lee who is in charge of the Movement’s interreligious dialogue, presented a talk at a pre-assembly meeting on women. In that talk which was titled “Interreligious Prayer and Meditation,” she highlighted the role of women as builders of peace in the world and in Asia: “that we might dream as a community in dialogue, comprised of people from different cultures and relgions, who are experience suffering and poverty but desire a united Asia.” As a first step, she proposed a training itinerary for the different religious communities, to uncover the spiritual patrimony of Asia and to provide visible signs of unity and harmony. In her message, the Focolare president also expressed her wish that effort based on love, compassion, forgiveness and devotion might help in contributing to the realisation of unity and harmony in Asia and beyond.
In his message, Pope Francis reiterated that dialogue and cooperation among religions remains the most secure path towards peace and “without fraternity the construction of a just society and solid peace will be impossible.” His words were both a warning and a desire for the 450 people who attended the ACRP, travelling from seventeen Asian countries, with representatives from Iraq and Kyrgystan. The title “Unity and Harmony in Asia” says a lot about the premise and expectations of the conference that has been operating for 40 years and representing the religious creed of more that two thirds of the world’s population.
A fourth group was added to the three work commissions: educating towards peace and reconciliation; human dignity and welfare; environmental and ecological development, the unification of the Korean penninsula and peace in Northeast Asia. The fourth group, under the guidance of the Korean Conference of Religions for Peace (KCRP), formulated its own declaration in support of the process of national reunification. One member remarked: “The real work begins now in our religious communities and in civil society.” The final document, the “Incheon Declaration,” describes the tracks: the common commitment to peace; the call to work for the social cohesion of the continent; working for the unification of the Korean peninsula.