"Religious and secular leadership alike must arouse the world to the awareness that our self-interest demands a new level of international and intercommunal collaboration. The religious principle is simple enough: Life is sacred, and further lack of cooperation across political, national, ethnic, and religious boundaries poses a clear and present danger to the continuation of life on this troubled planet." Rabbi Norman Lamm Food/Energy and the Major Faiths, Gremillion, Joseph, pp. 76, 118-119, [Orbis Books, c1978]
These comments from a symposium sponsored by the Center of Concern now more than a quarter century ago have special resonance in the new millennium. Shadowy paramilitary forces with headquarters in Central Asia launched a destructive attack in the name of religion against the symbols of economic and military preeminence in the United States, reportedly because of policies in the Middle East. The president of the world's most powerful nation launched a "crusade" against terrorism and leaders of Al Qaeda decried it as Christianity's attack on Islam, calling for a global uprising in holy jihad.
Voices of religious moderation have thus far succeeded in toning down the rhetoric and restraining the spread of religious conflict. But the crises are far from over; nor are they limited to this one confrontation. Hindu and Muslim nations have arrayed their armies in dangerous confrontation along the India-Pakistan border. Peace efforts between Israel and Palestine have collapsed time after time. The decades-old Christian-Muslim conflict in Sudan drags on; the devastated communities in the Balkans attempt to rebuild their lives under the protection of international peacekeeping forces. The list goes on and on, disturbing both in its length and in the viciousness of the conflicts carried on in the name of religion.
Failure to understand and appreciate each others' religious experience, beliefs and commitments leaves religious communities around the globe uneasy with each other. The rapidly growing economic disparities and the debilitating poverty afflicting billions of people feed this discomfort and aggravate resentments and distrust. The forces of global economic integration, communications and migration meanwhile keep dissolving the protective barriers of geography.
In this globalizing world, there will not be justice or peace until all religious communities come to discover their common visions and their calling from the Ultimate to stand and work arm in arm for the well being of each and all.
In the mid 1970's, the Center of Concern was home to the Interreligious Peace Colloquium. The IPC held two major symposia, one on food and energy issues and the other on the changing world order. The initiative was realized because a Mr. Matthew Rosenhaus "prodded us and provided us with the funds to come together for this period of sharing. He was dismayed and angry that given the presumed strength of the religious community throughout the world, we should go from crisis to crisis, from conflagration to conflagration - that the religious community should have such apparently ineffective input into the management of our global village." [Food/Energy and the Major Faiths, p. viii]
As the Center of Concern launches its new web site into the post-September 11th world, it is time to renew this shared interreligious search for God's justice and peace. The Center comes from within the Catholic tradition with its corpus of official Catholic Social Teaching and its rich and diverse body of Catholic Social Thought. In the values and principles of that tradition, we have found important resources for analyzing and evaluating social institutions and policies.
The Center will continue to share those resources, to identify itself and evolve its thinking and advocacy from that Catholic foundation. But as with so many things post-September 11th, we recognize that there must be a difference now. The crises of our present and the directions of our future must be worked out in interfaith dialogue and collaboration or they will never be complete. They can never succeed in realizing the divine aspirations dispersed among all peoples.
In this section of the web site, we will begin to gather the resources from the major world faiths that are pertinent to the justice issues we address. We invite the contributions of people of different faiths who share our commitment to justice for all and our search for the path toward its fulfillment.
We believe there is one God with many names and with no name, with unnumbered manifestations and with manifest passion for healing and justice. We believe that faith in God, while intensely personal, must embrace the community needs and social concerns of all peoples, or it falls short of the Real. We believe that together, enriched by each others' revelation, we can contribute effectively to the healing renewal of "our global village."