Remarks by Bishop John Noonan
Called to be Peacemakers: Interfaith Prayer Service for Peace held on January 19, 2011 at the Anglican Cathedral of the Incarnation
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace! It is my privilege to address you tonight standing with these prestigious faith leaders representing the many faith traditions in our Central Florida Community. I welcome those from the Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Sikh communities and other faith traditions here tonight. I also thank Bishop Campese for his hospitality in hosting this opportunity to pray together for peace. I am especially happy to see our students with us this evening. You are our hope and our future leaders. We come together for one purpose, to pray for peace and an end to violence, both personal and collective, in our society.
Unfortunately, violence and hatred are an ever-present reality in our world. Everyday the media reveals new and more horrifying abuses on individuals, cultures, and religious communities; Most recently seen in the tragic shootings in Arizona. We pray for those victims and victims of violence everywhere.
We are seeing a growing disrespect for life with the increase of pornography, bullying, domestic violence, war, torture, human trafficking, terrorism, and murder. More subtle forms of violence exist as well in the form of poverty, addiction, racism, hunger, and a general sense of hopelessness.
But, peace is not just the absence of violence. No, real peace is based on the fundamental respect for the rights and dignity of each person. This respect is developed and practiced day by day, choice by choice, person by person. It is the intentional decision we make to base all of our interactions and relationships on a deep and profound respect for the sacred dignity in each human soul. This dignity is founded on rights that are articulated in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the inalienable rights at the heart of the Declaration of Independence, in the moral code of our shared scripture and traditions and, more importantly, is written or engraved on the heart of every human being.
So where do we start? Within ourselves, our families, our schools and neighborhoods, taking what we know in our hearts and hear in our synagogues, temples, churches and mosques, that peace is the personal responsibility of each of us and reflects our love of self, neighbor and God. If we are in relationship with our neighbor, we are less likely to feel fear or hate towards them.
We are more powerful when standing up for dignity than when using force to solve social and personal conflicts. This power is at the core of non-violent confrontation and was used during the civil rights movement by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and practiced by Ghandi in India.
This power is centered in prayer. Centering our lives in prayer and acting with justice, we help create compassionate and genuine relationships. Our help is in the name of the Lord whose gift is peace. May we continually pray for a just and peaceful society where people feel more connected to their community and less isolated and alone. Let us remember the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.” Salaam, Shalom, Santi, Peace!