Tuesday, July 19, 2011

St. Francis prayed for the Lord to make him an instrument of peace. So many people have been moved by this prayer and the subsequent songs. I wonder if we have been moved enough to make a difference in a world that is crying out for peace makers? Few would argue against the notion that to solve conflict created by religious intolerance, prejudice and discrimination, it is essential to understand how religion motivates believers and shapes their worldviews, that respecting all religions is not enough. While religion can be a cause of conflict, it carries political leverage that many say makes it a source for solutions and a tool for peace building. "We are giving a whole government effort to put religion on the table," said the Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, the new U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. The United States is "on the front lines of confronting conflict and urging and pressing governments" to fight for religious freedom, she told Catholic News Service in a phone interview. Her comments came in response to remarks of participants in a recent panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington on the role of faith-based diplomacy and the use of religion to resolve conflict, especially with regard to Pakistan. The press club discussion, held in mid-June, focused on a new book by Douglas M. Johnston, president and founder of the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, who says the U.S. should realign its view on the role religion plays in politics. This is a nice step in the right direction but there is much work to be done. Think of the intolerance for Catholicism that regularly confronts us in the media. Year after year, new movies are released that bash Catholicism. The leadership of our Church is calling on us to become more vigilant. Lord make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.