Our work for peace is grounded in the Constitution of the Missionary Society of St. Columban, which states, “Ultimately [solidarity] is to strive to be the poor in Spirit, to be, like Jesus, thirsting for God’s justice, peacemakers enamored of true God-given community.”
Throughout the world there exist different kinds of conflict: ethnic, religious, political, civil, and economic. One effective strategy of peace-making is interreligious dialogue. Such dialogue increases a sense of communal membership and engagement and strengthen social bonds while inspiring a model for transforming conflict and building sustainable peace.
The book Interfaith Just Peacemaking, edited by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, demonstrates that interreligious dialogue can be a bridge of cooperation. 27 Jewish, Muslim, and Christian scholars and religious leaders compare the ten “practice norms” of a peacemaking paradigm called “Just Peace.” In the preface, Jamal Badawi describes interreligious dialogue as a model of diversity within unity and unity within diversity.
Columbans at the Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations in Australia describe interreligious dialogue as an effort that “promotes mutual understanding – learning from each other’s experience, correcting misunderstandings, and cooperating for the common good of society.”
There is a tremendous need for interreligious dialogue. We live in a world dominated by different religious beliefs and practices. We can build a peaceful world by accepting a pluralistic society. Our peaceful coexistence depends on our ability to welcome faith-based conversations that emphasize tolerance.
The contributors to Interfaith Just Peacemaking demonstrate that nonviolence is a core principle of each of the three Abrahamic religions. James Burke writes, “Christians who have engaged in non-violent struggle have not failed to draw thinkers’ attention to the power of nonviolent action.”
Peter S. Knobel reflects on the Jewish Psalm 34:15 “Seek peace and pursue it” (Ps. 34:15). “This passage,” he says, “provides the overall justification for non-violent direct action as well as conflict resolution, in the Jewish tradition.”
Mohammed Abu-Nimer, an expert on conflict resolution and dialogue for peace, quotes the Qur’anic verses: “Whenever they kindle the fire of war, God extinguishes it. They strive to create disorder on earth and God loves not those who create disorder (Qur’an 5:64).
To build a peaceful society, we must use our religious teachings as bridges of cooperation to reach solutions of conflict. In the words of Hans Kung:
No peace among the nations without peace among the religions.
No peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions.
No dialogue between the religions without investigation of the foundations of the religions.