Speaking at the Al-Azhar International Peace Conference on 27-28 April in Egypt, the Ecumenical Patriarch, His All-Holiness Bartholomew I, Pope Francis and World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit address topics of misinterpretation of religious text, the culture of peace in religion, and global peace and how it is affected by poverty, illness and exploitation.
More than 400 Muslim, Christian and political scholars and leaders were invited to the two-day event by Prof. Dr Ahmed al-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar mosque and university. Chosen as Grand Imam of Al Azhar in 2010, Dr al-Tayyeb is an outspoken advocate for interreligious dialogue and peace, as well as a strong critic of religious extremism.
In his presentation to the conference, Tveit said “We believe in one God that has created one humanity to live together with its diversity and differences. We are here to share our reflections and commitment to show together what we believe this means in practice,” and added, “Together we should call for the care of the life of everybody created by God. We are accountable to the Creator when we meet one another as God’s creation.”
“As religious leaders we have a special responsibility to elevate the sanctity of the life of all human beings created by the Holy God. As communities of faith we are called to show this as love to one another, in relations of respect and care to everybody,” Tveit reflected, and added that “Violence in the name of religion cannot be done without violating the values of religion. Violence in the name of God towards those who are created in the image of God becomes violence against God. We are from the beginning to the end accountable to God.”
“As religious leaders, gathered today for peace, we have the duty of speaking with one voice, particularly against any advocacy of hatred that amounts to inciting violence, discrimination or any other violation of the equal dignity that all human beings enjoy regardless of their religion, belief, gender, political or other opinion, national or social origin, or any other status,” Tveit concluded.
Participation at the International Peace Conference followed on a WCC delegation’s visits to member churches in Egypt, as well as a day of Muslim-Christian dialogue with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and the Muslim Council of Elders, on 26 April.