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The Brussels Declaration: "The Peace of God in the World"

 

 

 

Grateful to God for this opportunity to come together, we, the participants of this inter-religious meeting, have gathered at the invitation of His All Holiness Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch, and His Excellency Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, in Brussels, Belgium, on 19-20 December 2001.  Mindful of the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11th in the United States of America, and equally mindful of the existing conflicts in various regions of the world, we have considered in a spirit of good will and sincere disposition the positive contributions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam to the present condition of humanity.  It is precisely on the basis of our respect for the diversity of our religions that we engage in this dialogue.  Based on these discussions, we, therefore, strive to fulfill our common responsibility to proclaim together "The Peace of God in the World" as embodied within the teachings of our respective religions.

1.    The will of God is for the peace of heaven to reign on earth.  The peace of God is not the mere absence of war; it is the gift of abundant life.  There is indeed an immediate and inseparable connection between peace and justice.  Thus we pray constantly for peace to prevail in the world and for peaceful living together among the faithful of all religions in our modern, multicultural, and multi-ethnic global society.

2.    Recognizing that, in the history of humankind, members of religious communities have committed crimes, we express our regret and repentance.  We nevertheless affirm that extremists do not reflect the teachings of these religions, and therefore religious beliefs are not responsible for the acts of adherents that are committed either by transgression or by misinterpretation.  This is why we reaffirm the statement of the 1992 Berne Declaration and the 1994 Bosphorus Declaration that "a crime committed in the name of religion is a crime against religion."

3.    One major role of religion is to bring the peace of God into the world on a local and global level.  It is the responsibility of religious leaders to prevent religious fervor from being used for purposes that are alien to its role.

4.    A fundamental common element of our monotheistic religions is faith and confidence in the good, human-loving, compassionate and merciful God.  The offer of God's love is open to all human beings for free acceptance and without constraint, regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, or gender.

5.    The response to God's invitation by the believer is achieved through faith, which is expressed through prayer, love, good works, respect for the other, and in contributing to a just society and social order.  Indeed, the essence of each religion is manifested best by those who are pure of heart.

6.    All of our religions consider justice and peace as gifts and blessings from God, and as duties of every human being to one another. None of them approves of violence, terrorism or ill-treatment of human beings. All of them disapprove of religious justification of violent and inhuman actions, which do not conform to the spirit of peace and justice, of peaceful cooperation and of respect for the dignity of the human person.

In view of these truths:

7.    We emphasize the need to address causes of local and regional tensions, especially in the developing world. Injustices do exist, and we respect the efforts of those who strive to redress them.  Nevertheless, this is not a justification for evil that would destroy innocent human life.  Hence the call, in all of our religions, is to bring peace with freedom, justice, and human rights.

8.    We unanimously reject the assumption that religion contributes to an inevitable clash of civilizations.  On the contrary we affirm the constructive and instructive role of religion in the dialogue among civilizations.

9.    We urge those who shape public opinion to avoid putting at risk the good relations and peaceful cooperation of all people through the projection of extremist religious views as representative of authentic religious belief.

10.    Rejecting all forms of discrimination, we support the principles of mutual respect, reciprocity, human rights, religious freedom, peaceful coexistence, and multi-religious cooperation.

11.    We appeal to all of the leaders of the peoples of the world to make every effort toward the peaceful resolution of conflicts. In the spirit of peaceful coexistence, we call for an end to the violence in the Middle East and for a return to the peace process.  We therefore pray that wherever there are clashes, people will come to enjoy peace with justice.  Our conviction is that all moral, political, and financial resources should be used to improve the integral development of all human beings and nations.

12.    In solidarity, and sustained by our respective spiritual resources, we commit ourselves to cooperate in efforts that lead to peace in the world.  To this end, we address a joint appeal to all men and women of goodwill in all walks of life, and particularly to those whose religious and political positions carry the responsibility to work for the benefit of the common good, to be convinced of this call to peaceful collaboration.

13.  In unity, solidarity, and love, with the prayer that our efforts will lead to "The Peace of God in the World," we commit ourselves and call upon our respective religious communities:

a)    To engage educators, members of the media, policy-makers, and other individuals, as well as institutions in civil society, in order to enhance understanding of religious communities and their beliefs, and to familiarize them with these communities' respective historical, cultural, and religious heritages worldwide.  With specific regard to education, this calls for the elimination from textbooks of prejudicial and discriminatory statements or references concerning religions, cultures, and ethnic groups.

b)    To support ongoing and new inter-religious and cross-cultural initiatives, including youth initiatives, in as many regions as possible throughout the world. Mindful that discriminatory behavior is learned rather than innate, we commit ourselves to educating our spiritual leaders and faithful in the ways of peace, mutual respect, and trust.

c)    To continue our dialogue and encourage all efforts to promote collaboration among our three religions, as manifested by the participants of this meeting.

d)    To foster communication networks that promotes the exchange of views and ideas on a regular basis.