"Religion must never be a justification for hatred and violence". With these words, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened the world assembly of "Religions for Peace" this Tuesday in Lindau, southern Bavaria.
According to its own information, this is the largest international alliance of religious communities.
"We may be different in our beliefs. But one thing must unite us: religion must never be a justification for hatred and violence," Steinmeier said at the start of the four-day conference at Lake Constance, according to the manuscript. The common message of Lindau must be: "No war may be waged in the name of religion!", warned the German head of state.
Religions as tools for peace
Steinmeier went on to say: "We must not be indifferent to the fact – and I can quite deliberately include myself here as a devout Christian – that many people who consider religion and faith to be important to us repeatedly express the view that religion actually prevents peace and even promotes war."
Religious faith can be a wonderful power that can give strength and meaning in life and death. "But faith and religion can also be abused. As a motivation for basically extra-religious intentions and political goals."
"Religions for Peace" (RfP), meanwhile, is serious about its conviction that religions should no longer be a cause of strife and war, but that, on the contrary, they could – and should – be tools of peace, Steinmeier added. – According to its own account, RfP is active in about 100 countries. Headquarters is New York.
Greetings from Marx and Bedford-Strohm
The chairman of the Catholic German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, said in a welcoming address that it was worrying that the world was increasingly threatening to succumb to the lure of more or less homogenous civilized areas. "When religions allow themselves to be taken into the service of the forces of homogenization and demarcation, they become state or cultural ideologies." They damaged themselves with it and enabled discord.
The chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany and Bavarian Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm called "Religions for Peace" (RfP) "a sign of hope in a troubled world". RfP stands for overcoming racism, hatred and greed with empathy, love and kindness.
RfP says it is active in about 100 countries. Headquarters is New York. The primary goal of the organization, which is accredited to the United Nations, is "to promote joint action among faith communities worldwide to strengthen peace". The RfP World Assemblies are held approximately every five years.
The current meeting in Lindau is the tenth of its kind and the first in Germany. Some 900 participants are expected to attend, including members of about a dozen religions. The meeting's motto is "Caring for our common future – promoting the common good for all". The organizers explained in advance that two major impulses should emanate from the meeting: on the one hand for the protection of holy sites, on the other against sexual violence against women.