Among the 170 representatives of world religions that attended the Day of Reflection and Prayer for Peace in Assisi were Bishop Munib Younnan of the Lutheran church in Jordan and the Holy Land who’s also President of the Lutheran World Federation and Martin Junge General Secretary of the Federation. Philippa Hitchen caught up with both of them towards the end of the Assisi gathering and asked them for their assessment of the event and what it can achieve.
Bishop Younan believes it’s “essential that religious leaders meet and goes on to say “we notice that the world is much more divided” than 25 years ago and that’s why it’s important “to revive our commitment to justice and peace.” Referring to the situation in the Holy Land and the contested question of Jerusalem, Bishop Younan describes the holy city as “the Mother of justice and peace” and says “there won’t be peace in the Middle East or in the world if there isn’t peace and justice in Jerusalem.”
Asked for his assessment of the Assisi event, Martin Junge says “we shouldn’t see what we are doing here in isolation of what people on the ground, motivated by faith, are doing” … to promote justice and peace.”
Assisi : General Secretary of World Council Churches
Philippa Hitchen is currently in Assisi to report on the commemoration of that first historic meeting that Blessed John Paul II hosted in this hill top Umbrian town 25 years ago .
Among those present at the 2011 ‘Pilgrims of Peace, Pilgrims of Truth ‘ , pilgrimage hosted this time by Pope Benedict XVI, was the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Reverend Doctor Olav Fykse Tveit.
Philippa asks Doctor Tveit about the significance of this meeting in terms of peace in the world: ” It is significant, he replies, that we have this event of all religious leaders around the world of all kinds of faiths and also communities not claiming to have a faith. All willing to commit themselves to peace as a priority. I think we have to do this again and again because there are always new challenges that need our commitment, that need our focus. But we need to focus more on young people , their contribution but also their needs. ”
In this interview Philippa also asks about the importance of finding peace in Jerusalem as a crucial part of the puzzle as to how religions can work together better and Doctor Tveist replies : ” Yes, Jerusalem is a challenge and a responsibility for all of us , particularly for the three Aramitic religions , Jews, Christians and Muslims as this is a Holy City for all three of us “.
Finally more close to home in the course of this interview , Norwegian born Doctor Tveist helps us make sense of the recent terrorist attack in his nation.