Calls for peace education programmes, divestment from companies producing weapons of war, and support for the Movement for the Abolition of War were among the campaigns suggested at the end of a Christian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament event in Oxford last Saturday.
Held at the Quaker House in Oxford, “Building Bridges for Peace” is an annual event to remember Barbara Eggleston, the campaign’s first coordinator who died 17 years ago. Steve Hucklesby, of the joint public issues team, chaired the part of the day dedicated to campaigning for peace. The interfaith event looked at the ways in which teachings of peace and nonviolence in sacred writings can build bridges between different faiths and cultures.
Dr Maria Power, a fellow of Blackfriars Hall where she a senior research fellow in human dignity at the Las Casas Institute for Social Justice, examined the causes of structural violence from a Christian perspective. She highlighted poverty, injustice and racism as among the underlying causes of conflict and how Catholic social teaching suggests ways to build bridges for peace and read the “signs of the times”.
Muslim scholar Dr Kamel Ait Tahar, who memorised the Qu’ran at the age of 17 and is Muslim chaplain to the High Sheriff of Oxford, told the gathering that the word “Islam” means “peace”.
He said: “The Qu’ran recognises the vital need for society to live in peace and security.” More than 250 verses refer to peace. “Peace needs to be aligned with justice,” he added.
Vijay Mehta, a Hindu peace activist and chair of Uniting for Peace, whose books include The Economics of Killing, Peace Beyond Borders and How Not to Go to War, voiced his belief that faiths must work together for peace. He felt religions “should be the first to raise a voice against nuclear weapons and the propaganda of deterrence”. He said “Departments for peace and peace centres worldwide are steps in the right direction, which will spread non-violence and a culture of peace and this will ultimately put an end to a culture of militarism, violence, and war.”
Buddhist speaker Roslyn Cook spoke about being a member of Soka Gakkai International, a global community-based anti-nuclear Buddhist organisation accredited to the United Nations. A CND Council member, she has lobbied for the abolition of nuclear weapons and for climate justice. She has called for ecocide to be recognised as a crime in international law and advocates the need for inner transformation to bring enlightenment.
Around 25 people attended the day in person and a similar number online. The international prayer for peace concluded the day.
Meanwhile, CNS reported that the icon of the Holy Family of Divine Will of Unity and Peace is being taken around Lebanon and will be taken to Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Jordan. “Mary, Joseph and Jesus were a family, and they were holy. But they were not one to the exclusion of the other,” said Episcopal Committee of Justice and Peace of the Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the Middle East.