Interreligious solidarity for “PEACE “ Philippines SDG17 EN


More than a decade of interreligious solidarity for “PEACE “

            By Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF

Claretian Missionary in the Philippines

The Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace started as a multi-faith, multi-sectoral citizen’s assembly of diverse religious traditions, cultures, and believes on the year of the Lord 2002 as an offshoot to the Cabatangan incident and other recent events that happened in Zamboanga.

I recall how we started as a group of friends -Muslims and Christians- strengthening our wills and commitment to work for peace in our communities, one Christian/Catholic group ‘Peace Advocates Zamboanga’ PAZ, and the ‘Social and Literacy Agenda for Muslims’ (SALAM). I do remember our first meeting in the Administrative Hall of WMSU and the signing of our Covenant at sunset at the College of Marine Science… 

I also remember the inspiration and challenge from our religious leaders, the Bishops of the region… especially when the waves of kidnappings started in our region and as a consequence, I was forced to leave Basilan…What is our role as religious leaders in a context of violence and cultural conflict… besides praying for peace in our churches and complaining about the situation??... 

That was the main reason for the formation of a group with a clear objective of working together for Peace putting together all resources and inspiration from our faith traditions. And we discovered that in our pluricultural context to work for peace must take the path of solidarity, in dialogue with other religious groups…  

And then we started our journey together advocating for Peace in the region… One of the significant moments of this peace advocacy together was to initiate the celebration of the Week of Peace in Zamboanga that was later taken into consideration by the Bishops-Ulama Forum and make it a real country celebration with a Presidential proclamation in 1997…. 

Another significant element was the training of the MNLF commanders who had signed an agreement with the government (1996) in order to build their PDC’s -Peace and Development Communities- training the commanders on the Culture of Peace, one seminar here in Zamboanga for this region and another one in Kidapawan for central Mindanao. 

Another significant moment was the petition from the Open Doors to give a seminar on Interreligious Dialogue for Peace to a group of Evangelical Pastors of the region here in Zamboanga, from which came the idea to join the Paz-Salam group…

Moreover, the Interfaith Discussion for Peace Forum that was held in November 13, 2002, with the theme, “Peace Through Reconciliation: Mindanaoans Seeking a Common Ground” was the ground-breaking effort that serves to forge a broad-based consensus among its tri-partite members on a common vision and agenda towards a Culture of Peace focused on their definition of common ground: OUR FAITH IN THE LIVING GOD AND OUR COMMITMENT TO BUILD HIS PEACE IN THE LAND… 

The Common Ground is where there is

·               Faith in and a living experience of a God of life, justice, and love;

·               Building a path of Peace in the community…

·               Respect for human rights;

·               Dynamic interest in current “burning” issues;

·               The option for vulnerable/ marginalized sectors; and

·               Sharing in the proactive search for solutions…

Thus we formed the INTER-RELIGIOUS SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT FOR PEACE… Its membership was made up of Christians-Catholic, Protestants/Evangelicals, Muslims from different groups and affiliations and lately the incorporation of representatives of Indigenous people, all leaders in their own way as well as spiritually-motivated citizens and communities. Their central principle and belief is that religions woven into an interfaith matrix of Dialogue and solidarity is the strongest force to build communal peace… 

We entrust our efforts to the merciful and compassionate God to bless our gathering, our celebration, and our commitments for peace. 

Wa Salam!

By Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF

Claretian Missionary in the Philippines


 

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