At a high-profile interfaith dialogue for peace in Naples, Italy, earlier this week, gathered religious and political leaders and intellectuals from five continents committed themselves to tackling the causes of global conflict.
The event, entitled 'For a world without violence', was organized by the Catholic community of Sant'Egidio - which organises annual seminars - and included a eucharistic celebration conducted by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, 21 October 2007.
In a panel discussion held Tuesday morning about "Faiths, war and peace," Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, World Council of Churches' general secretary, said he sees "three major threats to world peace today," namely: nuclear proliferation accompanied by "intense struggles for resources in an increasingly polarised world and the gradual weakening of the global institutions of mutual accountability"; "the increasing impact of climate change"; and “the threat of deepening injustices at all levels".
Dr Kobia has strongly condemned the misuse of faith to promote division and conflict. But on this occasion he emphasized the positive role religion can play in such a context.
"Faith communities are not defined along racial or ethnic lines, or by national borders, but cut across these divides. We can therefore help to find new ways to express our faith, to be able to talk to our neighbours of other faiths, and to forge common visions and goals for the sake of life," he affirmed.
The event echoes a decade-long peace initiative of the WCC, the Decade to Overcome Violence. This effort to focus churches on the issue of violence and peacemaking ends in 2011 with an International Ecumenical Peace Convocation.
Among the personalities attending the Naples event were the chief rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger, the founder of the University of the United Arab Emirates Ezzeddin Ibrahim, and the Buddhist monk U. Uttara from Myanmar, as well as the Italian premier Romano Prodi and the presidents of Tanzania, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, and Ecuador, Rafael Correa Delgado.
Signs of goodwill among religions and denominations at the Naples meetings included a relic of Saint Andrew being handed over to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. It is believed that the larger part of St. Andrew's remains were taken from Constantinople in the early 13th century and brought to Amalfi in southern Italy.
For more information about the event see:
To learn more about the WCC Decade to Overcome Violence see: