Inter-faith Groups gather in Geneva to celebrate World Day of Peace
The Interfaith groups with a mission in Geneva gathered at the Parish of Saint John XXIII on January 30, 2023, to celebrate the World Day of Peace (WDP). The gathering rallied reflections around the central theme of Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Peace – No one Can Be Saved Alone. Anchoring on this theme, the Pope invited all active participants in the project of evolving a just and inclusive world to collaborate by pulling together the richness of their faith-based initiatives and resources together.
Welcoming the participants, Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, the Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, relayed the central message of Pope Francis for the 2023 World Day of Peace. With the direct experience of the vulnerability we felt in our own lives and the world around us, he said, we can conclude that: “the greatest lesson we learned from Covid-19 was the realization that we all need one another. That our greatest and yet most fragile treasure is our shared humanity as brothers and sisters.”
The theme, in some sense, tallies with the current multilateralism approach of the UN in pursuance of its global mission. In a world where religious perspectives are increasingly being called to question in policy formulations, the gathering was reassuring in buttressing the fact that faith supports a realistic multilateralism approach. The Reverend Monsignor John David Putzer, First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of the Holy See, made this clear in his presentation at the 8th Annual Interfaith Dialogue on Faith, Multilateralism, and Public Policy, delivered in Geneva on Friday, February 10, 2023. He again reiterated Pope Francis’ Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See on January 10 2022, highlighting the fact that the global crises we face today test the limits of the multilateral system and have “clearly demonstrated that we cannot be saved alone and by ourselves: the great challenges of our time are all global.” He further argued that:
“Unfortunately, while what is needed is a renewal of collaboration and cooperation to address these challenges, all too frequently, the discussions within the international organizations and UN system are “hijacked” by political and national interests, reciprocal vetoes, accusations, manipulation, and a lack of political will. As such, rather than seeking consensus through authentic dialogue, the operations of these institutions are blocked by increasing polarization among its members. This is why Pope Francis has called for a renewal of the multilateral system.”
The keynote address delivered by the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Michael Czerny, on the night of the WDP celebration also conveyed the main thrust of Pope Francis’ message – “no one can be saved alone”. Essentially, he said, “This is what surviving the pandemic required and requires: acting together, not alone”.
In his speech, His Excellency, the Metropolitan Maxime of Switzerland, reminded the participants that we are called to join our voices to appeal to every human being to work for peace.
The president of the Protestant Church of Geneva, Mrs. Eva Di Fortunato, remarked that when we meet others, we are transformed and feel responsible for them. “Once we have encountered one another, we can no longer remain indifferent to their plea…the meaning of the word ‘together’ is restored,” she said.
Venerable Tawalama Dhammika, the Director of the International Buddhist Centre of Geneva, also echoed the message of Pope Francis. His recollection was that “Man is a social being and can never survive alone, which was proven in the difficult moments of the Covid-19 pandemic”.
Concluding, Rabbi Francois Garai of the Liberal Jewish Community of Geneva enjoined the participants not to forget the human reality and the responsibility of each one of us towards everybody with whom we form the ONE human family.
The next day, Cardinal Czerny addressed the NGOs aligned with the Holy See Mission, and VIVAT International was duly represented. During the interactive session, the NGOs officially known as Catholic Inspired NGOs (CINGO) or the Geneve Forum bared their minds on the dangers of the ‘instrumentalization’ of faith-based organizations by the UN. The danger here lies in faith-based NGOs increasingly becoming rubber stamps and willing tools in the hands of the UN and its policies, especially those policies that run overtly to the core Catholic faith. The trend whereby some Catholic NGOs deviate from the position of the Church on core doctrinal deposits of faith was frowned upon. While recognizing the beneficial outlay of multilateralism, any attempt at appropriating its multidimensional trappings must be approached with an air of caution, the meeting concluded.