Religion and the Creation of World Peace
Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios
As chairman of this third Assembly of the World’s Religions, may I greet you and welcome you to this holy gathering. May the peace and mercy of the Lord abide with us.
Respected Reverend Sun Myung Moon, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, distinguished fellow participants of this Assembly:
Permit me first to make my humble tribute of gratitude and admiration for the vision and work of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
I can do that best by testifying first to how I came to the first Assembly in McAfee, New Jersey, as an uninformed skeptic and have now become an ardent admirer of your vision and work. I came against the advice and counsel of my colleagues and friends in the world Council of Churches of which I was at that time a President. They unloaded all their unexamined prejudices onto me. I came largely to find out for myself the truth about your work.
Today I see you as an untiring and inspired worker for some of the principles that I myself hold very dear. I shall highlight only three.
I hold with you, first, that the presence and power of the Transcendent God as the center, foundation and moving force of all that is good, and thus of all that has free being or existence. At the root of all the problems that face humanity today, I see the ignoring of the Divine Principle at the heart of all reality. We have to wake humanity up from its sloth and slumber, to heed the call to be the bearers of the awareness of that Divine Principle, and to re organize all life-personal, social and of the biosphere-on the basis of that Divine Principle.
Second, I agree with you that the Divine Principle which heals and unites, is manifold as love, truth and beauty. Love for all, across national, racial, linguistic, religious and other boundaries, love that flows from God through us to all, love that suffers and endures and sacrifices oneself for the sake of others - that love is God. That love seeks not one’s own salvation, promotes not its own religious group, but labors for the healing of all, for the fulfillment of all, for the deliverance of all from ignorance and selfishness, from hatred and greed, from lust and restlesshess.
Third I agree with you that these principles have to be put into practice not just enunciated and affirmed. Many of us religious leaders, I confess, have dismally failed at this point, by seeking power and glory, fame and adulation, for oneself or for one’s religious group. You have shown us what it means to work day and night to fulfill the will of God and to make the Transcendent God rule in the lives of all. We have seen how starting with the crucial realm of the family you have sought to bring all culture into the obedience of God-Science and religion, the academy and the arts, politics and institutions. What we beheld yesterday at the Olympic Stadium here in Seoul, bears eloquent testimony to your extraordinary powers of vision and organization - an achievement without parallel in history, the community Wedding of 30000 couples from more than a hundred nationalities of the world. You have envisaged and created all these organizations and movements - the International Conference on the Unity of the Sciences, the Professors World Peace Academy, the IRF the IRFWP, the Women’s Federation for world peace, the International Federation for World Peace, the Summit council, the world University Project with Bridge port University as its base, the encyclopedia Project, the World Scriptures Project, the Highway Project and many others that I cannot here enumerate.
We salute you, Reverend Sun Myung Moon, as an outstanding, devout, dedicated extraordinary servant of God. God bless you and your family and your work. May God richly reward you and grant you peace and joy all the days of your life. Two days ago, Reverend Moon, you spoke to all of us about your self - understanding - your declaration about who you and Mrs. Moon are: "the True Parents of all humanity, .... the savior, the Lord of the Second Advent, the Messiah", in your own words, "an astonishing and fearful announcement."
Those of us who do not belong to the Unification Church, from the various religions, professions and walks of life all around the world, would like to make a preliminary response in two parts, to you the Reverend Moon with the same simplicity and candor with which you have addressed us. We have great respect and admiration for your many monumental achievements for the work of human unity, peace and harmony, and we are privileged to be your fellow workers in this noble cause. We are grateful for what you have done and are doing.
First, we must place on record, with the utmost humility, that we are unable to accept your claim to be "the True Parent of all humanity, the Savior, the Lord of the Second Advent, the Messiah." By this we mean no disrespect. We want, however, to make it quite clear, that when we work with you for the unity of humanity we stand on our own convictions and traditions, while sharing with you your great vision of God at the center of all, and of an all-embracing love for all humanity.
That is the second part of our preliminary response. We pledge, rooted in our own religious traditions, to work with you for the fulfillment of the will of God, for making God known and acknowledged in all walks of life, so that humanity may find healing, liberation, harmony, justice, peace and a life-promoting environment.
Now a word about the central theme of this Assembly: Religion and the Creation of World Peace. You will discuss this large theme in the plenaries, the panels and the committees, as well as in your private conversations. I need only to highlight three aspects of the role of religion in creating world peace:
a) Analysis: Analysis can be of two kinds. Fundamental analysis means raising basic questions like: What is peace? Why is there no peace? What is needed for peace? Do not be satisfied with easy answers which everyone can provide. For example, you may ask "Why is there no peace?" Christians may answer: Sin. Hindus may answer: Avidya or non-knowledge. Buddhists may answer: Trshna or desire. Do not stop at these answers. Go deeper. For example, ask "Where is sin lodged?" You may answer: "In the individual soul." Someone may suggest: "What about sin in the institutions and structures of our society - in the political economy, in the discrimination based on sex, race or religion, and so on?" That is fundamental analysis.
Functional analysis is the other kind. Who are the enemies of peace? Who benefits from war? What is the relation between militarism and politics and of both with the industrial and economic system?" You can think up the questions - sometimes even more specifically: "Who wanted the Gulf War? Who benefitted from it?" and so on.
b) Action: You can discuss questions like "Who could act? What should they do? What can religions do?" Governments need to act. Only they can create the conflict-resolving and peace-keeping machinery. They must work towards a democratic international structure of legislative, judiciary and executive. But governments are not gods. It is only when God is ignored that people begin to look to governments for salvation. People can act. They can act not just as individuals, but through committed groups, organizations, networks and so on.
c) Activation of Spiritual Energy: I believe that modern science, which knows about four kinds of energies: weak force, strong force, gravitational energy and electromagnetic energy, cannot tell us much about the more potent fifth form of energy - spiritual energy, the power of prayer that springs from a dedicated and disciplined life. They are on to bioenergy, which is actually one of the forms of spiritual energy.
The University of Chicago, through Enrico Fermi and his associates, discovered nuclear energy little more than 50 years ago. Will the University of Bridgeport be able to devise a project and a laboratory for generating spiritual energy through the spiritual traditions of all the religions of humanity? Can we develop a few experimental powerhouses - a Sufi powerhouse, a Yogic powerhouse, a Zen powerhouse and so on? That may be the beginning of a sea-change in our perception of the world. Is that not what universities are really for? I wonder and I leave it there.
I conclude. We religious leaders have been lazy and indifferent. God is pushing us to wake up and stretch our spirits and extend our horizons.
May the Grace of God come and heal. May the Transcendent Power abide in us and lead us to peace and unity. Amen.
(Speech at Third Assembly of the World’s Religions, 1992)