Leaders of different faiths in Religions for Peace joined together in March to decry the death of Most Rev. Paulos Faraj Rahho, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop. He was kidnapped after he left mass in Mosul, Iraq, on 29 February. HRH Prince el Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, President Emeritus of Religions for Peace, who issued a public statement condemning the kidnapping on 3 March said “The death of the Archbishop is a loss for all of humanity.” “The true realization of coexistence must be rooted in respect for human life and human dignity. Muslims, Jews, and Christians – we are all bound by a common moral heritage of caring for one another. With this loss of our Iraqi brother, each of us mourns an unnecessary and unconscionable death.”
Dr. William F. Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace, said, “The way to build peace in Iraq and around the world is for religious communities to work together,” he said. “Each one of us in the global Religions for Peace network is diminished by the loss of Archbishop Paulos, a champion for peace.”
Meanwhile Sayed Hassan Izz al-Din Bahr Al-Uloom, a Representative of Al-Hawza al-Ilmiyah from Iraq and a member of the Religions for Peace World Council, said in a statement after the kidnapping, “We call all of the active sides in civil society to unite and cooperate with each other to prevent such acts from happening… We all aim at spreading peace and coexistence among the followers of divine religions in respect for man.”
Since the fall of Baghdad in 2003, Religions for Peace has convened senior Iraqi leaders of different faiths ten times in Iraq, England, Jordan, South Korea, Japan, and Norway to help build trust and forge consensus; members of the Chaldean Catholic community were instrumental participants in the multi-religious efforts. Most recently, on 3 March, Religions for Peace was a co-sponsor in multi-religious dialogue, “Iraq for All Iraqis,” in conjunction with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace since 1970. Headquartered in New York and accredited to the United Nations, Religions for Peace works through affiliated inter-religious councils in 70 countries in six continents.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Faith:
It is with deep sadness that Religions for Peace learned of the passing of its esteemed Honorary President, Dr. Chiara Lubich, Founder and President of the Focolare Movement. Our beloved Chiara passed away in her home in Rocca di Papa, Italy. Our entire Religions for Peace family offers heartfelt condolences to all of the members of the Focolare Movement. Chiara was a champion of multi-religious dialogue and cooperation; a trusted advisor to eminent religious leaders of different faiths around the world; and—above all—a dear friend to Religions for Peace. Members of her community continue to work selflessly and with great creativity to foster multi-religious dialogue and action on all continents. All of us in Religions for Peace are united in celebrating Chiara’s love of God and her devotion to the unity of all people. Her life inspires each of us to advance peace through common action. Our working together to build peace honors her memory.
Dr. William F. Vendley