By Bonaventure Melah

Apart from Christianity, all other known religions and faiths preach the need for humanity to live in peace without which adherents are less likely to make meaningful contributions to existence.

The need for peace has equally bothered governments of nations, communities and families, because the world has witnessed and still living with avoidable conflicts, violence and wars that have combined to ruin lives, destroyed thousands of cities and rendered millions of people homeless. In spite of these, the search for peace is still of paramount importance to all men of goodwill.

It is perhaps for this relevance of peace to human development that brought obvious excitement and joy to the Catholic Pontiff and sovereign of the Vatican, Pope Francis to welcome with open hands a delegation of 80 members of “Religions for Peace” who paid him a visit in the Vatican following their meeting in Rome on October 19, 2017. Among the delegates were the Catholic Arch Bishop of Abuja John Cardinal Onaiyekan and the Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle Communications Limited, Sir Babatunde Lucky Omoluwa who is a member of Board of Trustees of the world body.

The Pope told them that “Religions, with their spiritual and moral resources, have a specific and unique role to play in building peace,” adding that “They cannot be neutral, much less ambiguous, where peace is concerned.”

“Religions for Peace (RFP),” is a Global Network and the world’s largest and most representative multi-coalition which advances common action among the world’s religious communities for peace. The organisation works to transform violent conflict, advance human development, promote just and harmonious societies and protect the earth.

The Network comprises a world council of senior religious leaders from all regions of the world, six regional inter-religious bodies and more than 90 national ones. The Global Women of Faith Network and the Global Interfaith Youth Network are also part of the RFP. Its international trustees are made up of lay individuals from 14 different countries that personally support RFP work through the provision of needed competences, networking and resource mobilization. Sir Lucky Omoluwa is a member of the Trustees of this world body.

Domiciled at the Church Centre for the United Nations in New York, RFP is committed to building consensus on positive aspects of peace as well as concrete actions to stop war, help eliminate extreme poverty and protect the earth.

The actions of the organization are not fashioned after religious sectarianism but are multi-religious and “public” in character. The various groups that make up RFP are led by representatives of diverse religious communities and designed to provide platform for cooperative action throughout the different levels of these religious communities from grassroots to the senior-leadership. They also serve as bridges between different religious communities that can help build trust, reduce hostility in areas of conflict as well as provide platform for common positive action.

Some of the unique features of RFP method of operation are practicality and openness to continuous creativity through which it assist religious communities to correlate or work out a connection between their capacities for action and specific challenges such as violent threat to peace. This approach helps to disclose large, often hidden or under-utilized capacities for action that lie within the proximity of religious communities as well as identify the unique advantages of multi-religious cooperation while working out the kinds of capacity building needed for effective multi-religious action.

Founded in 1970, the vision of the organization is to see the world religious communities co-operate effectively for peace. It is committed to leading efforts to advance multi-religious co-operation for peace on global, regional, national and local levels while ensuring that religious communities organized on these same levels and exercise appropriate leadership and ownership of such efforts. To achieve its set objectives and goals, RFP ensures that in addition to dialogue, concrete actions are taken when and where necessary towards the transformation of violent conflicts, promotion of just and harmonious societies, advancement of human development and protection of the earth.

The organization operates on five principles which are, Respect for religious differences; Act on deeply held and widely shared values; Preserve the identity of each religious community; Honour the different ways religious communities are organized; and Support locally led multi-religious structures.

*Melah is an Abuja based journalist, author and public analyst. He can be reached on 08036062975. Email: [email protected]

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