And the work of righteousness shall be peace…

Head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk Filaret took part in the second congress of leaders of international and traditional religions in Astana. The discussions were centred on “Religion, society and international security”
43 delegations from over 20 countries were representing all international and traditional religions and denominations. The discussions went about such an acute topic as how one can stop religions and beliefs being used as a cover-up for military conflicts, social disasters, manifestations of terrorism and aggression. Spiritual leaders of the world reached a common understanding and approval of universal principles of inter-religious dialogue. The congress adopted a declaration calling for the replacement of mutual hostilities, disagreements and hatred with an environment of mutual respect, sincerity and recognition of cultural, religious, civilisational variety. True religions are supposed to use their spiritual and moral essence to unite, not divide people. Therefore, according to participants of the congress, terrorism is not an option, as justice cannot be served through fear and blood. By utilising such means in the name of a religion one abandons norms of any religion, which urges people to be good and communicate. The discussions also rejected the utilisation of pressure and violence aimed at converting people to another religion. “When a programme meant to build a multireligious society comes crashing down, an idea to revive some universal religion to unite all religions is born. I am convinced that attempts to mix beliefs and similar experiments cannot benefit the inter-religious dialogue. Only respect for the integrity of teachings and each other’s traditions can truly bring us together in the service for the benefit of the humanity and resolution of modern world problems,” reads an address to the congress sent by Reverend Patriarch of Moscow Aleksiy II.

During the forum Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, Exarch of all Belarus Filaret delivered a report on the role of religious leaders in strengthening the international security. “Striving for a peaceful life means little. One has to earn the right by changing one’s inner self for the better… Saint prophet Isaiah testified ‘And the work of righteousness shall be peace and the effect of righteousness, quietness and confidence for ever.’ (Isaiah 32:17) But when the secular society starts speaking about the world order, state policies or closest neighbours one can hear them say ‘Everyone has a truth
of their own’…”

Peace is always a gift of God’s grace earned through personal moral efforts of a human being.

I think the primary task of spiritual leaders in building up the peace and security will be upbringing the congregation according to the spirit of peacefulness, compassion and love for people regardless of their colour of skin, religious, political and other beliefs. Upbringing such men will be the more successful the earlier it starts: from the mother’s womb, the first breath, the first word.

All the more we need to develop the dialogue between shepherds. When a priest, a mullah, a rabbi and a lama meet at a crossroads, they should not use traffic rules to define the right of passage, but should pray to the Lord Almighty for their guidance on their way of peace and brotherly affection.

The establishment of a genuine, stable and blessed peace requires concerted efforts of not only politicians of various countries, but believers of all traditional international religions ranging from common parishioners to the top religious figures. The secular international community, states and governments have a great influence on the dialogue between civilisations. If they can fight oppression and poverty effectively, the ground, which generates discontent and violence, will be removed. Besides, powers that be should respect and protect religious shrines and symbols of all nations.

Because it is this field mines are planted in. The practice shows that one wrong, ill-considered step can blow up seemingly stable welfare. The modern world needs consolidated efforts and the desire to be heard and hear other side’s voice.

Galina Pavlovich
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