Press Tele-Conference Opening Statement: Interfaith Coalition for a Peaceful End to Terrorism

Center of Concern | Thu, Jan 24, 2002

By James E. Hug, S.J.

I am James E. Hug, President of the Center of Concern. I am the convener of the Interfaith Coalition for a Peaceful End to Terrorism. We are pleased to welcome you to this Press Conference.In the wake of the crises of the September 11th attacks in Washington, New York and Pennsylvania, the launching of the ""War against Terrorism,"" and the devastating humanitarian crisis aggravated by the war effort, representatives of a variety of faith-based organizations met in Washington to reflect on whether and how to take coordinated action to provide guidance for our communities, our leadership and our government in what promises to be an extended and violent struggle.The goal of this collaboration is to insist that it is impossible to end the cycle of terrorist activities by military means. There must be a reaching out to people in need and to the faith that sustains, guides and motivates them. The peace and freedom from terror that we all seek will be born of justice, not of war.This coalition is working to promote peaceful, faithful and just ways to end terrorism and eliminate its causes. The coalition is open to members of all faiths who share these aspirations.The many resources available to the faith communities make this collaboration very powerful.

  • Centers of prayer and worship are found in every part of the nation and around the world, and people have been turning to these churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other worship spaces for religious consolation, guidance and strength in this time of crisis and uncertainty.
  • Religious communities or orders have memberships, ministries and institutional networks that extend around the world.
  • Systems of religiously-sponsored schools constitute an extensive educational outreach capable of forming the consciousness and values of generations.
  • University networks are home to scholars and research centers that focus on the issues of justice and conflict.
  • Missionaries and faith-based international social service and development agencies are conduits for information, understanding, shared experience and solidarity across national, cultural and religious boundaries.
  • International advocacy networks of faith-based activists are a growing strength in global civil society.
  • Faith communities have media networks and established relationships with mainstream media.
  • The institutional leadership of the faiths bring great moral authority and extensive institutional resources.

We have called this Press Conference today to raise our voices in solidarity with the world religious leaders gathering in Assisi, Italy, in just a few hours, convened by Pope John Paul II. We wish to join in the Pope's call for overcoming of opposition [to] and the promotion of authentic peace. We also wish to note the reconvening today of the 107th Congress and the preparations underway for President Bush's State of the Union Address.As U.S. religious leaders we call upon members of Congress and the President not to let the military conflict expand into another country beyond Afghanistan and instead to pursue non-military solutions to the war on terrorism.We have four representative leaders here today who will each speak for 3 to 5 minutes. They are

  • The Right Reverend Richard Shimpfky from California
  • Bishop C. Joseph Sprague from Chicago
  • Sr. Kathleen Pruitt, CSJP from Seattle
  • Rabbi Arthur Waskow from Philadelphia.

I will introduce each of the speakers individually for their comments. After all four have spoken, we will open the call for questions.

  • The Right Reverend Richard Shimpfky is the Chair of the Episcopal Church's Standing Commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns. He is Bishop of the California Central Coast, diocese of El Camino Real. Bishop Shimpfky.
  • Bishop C. Joseph Sprague is the Bishop of the Chicago Area of the United Methodist Church. Bishop Sprague has served the church for 27 years as a pastor, 7 years as an ecumenical officer, and now 6 years as a Bishop. He has 3 honorary doctorates and has been named outstanding alum/pastor by the Methodist Theological School of Ohio. He is known for combining biblical scholarship, personal piety, preaching and teaching with social justice ministries and commitments. Bishop Sprague.
  • Sr. Kathleen Pruitt is President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents 1200 U.S. Catholic religious communities with a combined membership of 75,000. In addition, she is Province Leader of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Peace, Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace, and former vice-President of Pax Christi International. Her global vision is grounded in international experience of work for justice and peace. She has held numerous leadership positions in religious, civil society, national and international peace and justice communities. Sr. Pruitt.
  • Rabbi Arthur Waskow is Director of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia, a center seeking guidance from Jewish thought and practice to achieving peace, justice, community and healing for the earth. Rabbi Waskow was one of the founders of the Institute for Policy Studies, a leading Washington Think tank, and was active throughout the 1960s in writing, speaking, electoral politics and nonviolent action against the Vietnam war. He has published extensively on justice and environmental issues. He has been named a ""Wisdom Keeper"" by the United Nations and was presented with the Abraham Joshua Heschel Award by the Jewish Peace Fellowship. Rabbi Waskow.

Thank you very much. Now we will open the floor for questions: