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Archbishop Gabrielle Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See Mission to the United Nations

Vatican ambassador highlights role of religion in achieving world peace

By Cecilia Ologunagba

New York, March 1, 2024

Archbishop Gabrielle Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See Mission to the United Nations, has emphasised the critical role of religion in achieving world peace.

Caccia, who spoke at an event to mark the World Interfaith Harmony Week at the UN headquarters in New York, said the world needed religion to respond to the thirst for peace.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that World Interfaith Harmony Week is observed every year in the first week of February, but the organiser shifted the 2024 celebration to the last week of the month.

Caccia praised religious leaders for promoting peace and harmony, noting that the world has learned from past events, how violence and hate triggered civil wars.

“The secret is everyday living together in peace. We have learned that as human beings, we have to recognise one another as brothers and sisters and on that basis practice forgiveness.

“We experience mutual forgiveness, and from forgiveness comes something new which promotes peace, in our own case, preachers of reconciliation, not instigators of distractions.

“Peace is a gift, and this gift flows in the heart of God; it is not a gift that should be taken for granted, and it must constantly be pursued.

“It is a commitment because it demands passion from all people of good faith,’’ he said.

The Vatican Ambassador, however, called on religious leaders to be committed in using their religious to promote peace and harmony, saying, “we are constantly called to work together in this conviction.

“The future also depends on the encounter of religion, culture, and inter-religious dialogue.

“Although it’s optional but it is essential, quoting Pope Francis at the Sept. 2022 Congress of Traditional Religion Leaders, that religion is not a problem but part of the solution for a more harmonious life in the society.”

Also speaking, Sulay-Manah Kpukumu, Minister Plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations said the country is one of the most peaceful countries in the world.

Kpukumu said the country had valued and worked for peace after it experienced civil war for 11 years.

He told the audience that the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been working to resolve differences.

“I’m proud to say that Sierra Leone is one of the most peaceful countries in the world.

“Muslims and Christians work together; interfaith marriages are common among families and the people celebrate religious holidays together,’’ he said.

According to him, collective efforts and dialogue are essential to overcome fear and prejudice and promote peace and harmony in the world.

NAN reports that the World Interfaith Harmony Week modified the two commandments to “love of the Good, and Love of the Neighbour.” This mantra teaches everyone goodwill and the power of kindness, charity, and healing.

During the week, leaders of various faiths gather to discuss how religion can enrich the lives of believers and how that makes the world a better place.

World Interfaith Harmony Week also highlights the philanthropic works of religious groups. It encourages others to do similar work or get more involved in their communities.

The event featured faith-based, sponsor, civil society and youth presentations, among others.

It was sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Sierra Leone, Ireland, and Belize to the United Nations and the Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.

Organised by the World Interfaith Harmony Week Project Team at the UN, the theme was “Overcoming hate and Reaching Across the divide to the “other”.

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