Panel Discussion on the Religious Factor in Peace-Building

The Panel Discussion on “Interreligious Dialogue and Conflicts Resolution” organized by CEMO Centro de Estudios de Oriente Medio-Fundación Promoción Social and RSC Religion & Security Council, took place in Rome on the morning of Friday, 18th of May.

The event featured as speakers Rev. Fr. Markus Solo, Bureau Chief for Asia at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Dr. Abdellah Redouane, Secretary General of the Islamic Cultural Center of Italy, who addressed the role of Interreligious Dialogue in advancing peace and security in the areas of crisis where the religious factor continues to be exploited to fuel extremism, conflicts, and violence. The event featured as speakers Dr. Abdellah Redouane, Secretary General of the Islamic Cultural Center of Italy, and Rev. Fr. Markus Solo, the Official for Islam in Asia and Pacific, as well as the Vice President of the Foundation Nostra Aetate at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID), and was attended by diplomats, officials of international organizations, scholars, experts, and journalists.

In particular, Rev. Fr. Solo reminded “the call of Pope Francis to all to be artisans of peace and promoters of interreligious dialogue.” The main forms of dialogue to be promoted among different professions of faith are “the dialogue of life, action, theological exchange, and spiritual experience.” As for the spread of extremism in Asia, he noted that “radical ideologies have undermined interfaith harmony in a number of countries from the Subcontinent to the western Pacific.” This phenomenon has also affected Indonesia, the country that was well known as a good example for the world as regards interreligious harmony, but is now facing repeated interreligious challenges, such as the recent deadly terrorist attacks on Churches in Surabaya. “The eradication of extremism will take time – Rev. Fr. Solo explained -, but enhancing education to interreligious dialogue, especially among children and youths, as well as good governance, would greatly contribute to restore the traditional Asian culture of openness and acceptance of plurality that has long ensured peaceful coexistence.”

RSC Chairman Emiliano Stornelli, who moderated the proceedings, “where the religious factor continues to be misused to fuel extremism and violence, interreligious dialogue can be part of the solution.” “Interreligious dialogue – he said –, holds the potential to facilitate conflicts resolution in the framework of broader political and diplomatic processes, and to advance peace-building in post-conflict situations.” The Middle East is a case in point. “No real and lasting peace will ever be possible without addressing the religious dimension of the various regional crises. Therefore, interreligious dialogue stands as a unique opportunity to foster and achieve reconciliation that should not be wasted by the local actors and the international community,” RSC Chairman concluded.