2012-05-30 Vatican RadioHow can Catholic peace networks and individual activists become more effective in overcoming conflicts and sowing seeds of reconciliation amongst divided communities? That was the key challenge that emerged on Wednesday at the conclusion of a two day seminar jointly organised by the Pontifical Justice and Peace Council and Caritas Internationalis, together with other international Catholic peace networks and organisations.
The meeting, marking the upcoming 50th anniversary of Pope John’s landmark encyclical ‘Pacem in terris’, brought together men and women from some of the world’s worst conflict zones to share best practice and discuss ways of developing broader partnerships across all sectors of society. Cardinal Peter Turkson is President of the Pontifical Justice and Peace Council:
"We had a chance to listen to stories and initiatives which are working, yielding fruit and bearing results.......like the example in the Philippines of Moslem leaders and Catholic bishops who are coming together and becoming a force for mediation and reconciliation - it's an example that can be put to use wherever these two communities are strong..."
While Christians are often a tiny minority in many conflict zones, participants at the conference spoke of a wide variety of initiatives that are developing deep roots of reconciliation between formerly divided communities, as the secretary general of Caritas Internationalis, Michel Roy, explains:
“People need to know each other, they’ve been invited to fight on an ethnic or religious basis, which are not the real reasons for fighting and they need to get to know each other and establish relations of friendship. This is very basic but very efficient and we have interesting examples of what’s being done right now in Sri Lanka between Tamil Hindu villagers and Singhalese Buddhist villagers …because peace is not something which comes from the top, it comes from the grassroots upwards”
Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report: