His Grace Cyril Mar Baselios
Archbishop of Trivandrum
President of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India
“In the light of Christian religious principles, religion as a means, not a hindrance, to social, political peace and mutual tolerance.”
In the name of Mata, on Your 50th Jubilee Celebration…. On behalf of all those who have gathered here…. In the name of the lakhs of people here, embodiment of universal brotherhood and love…. Amma, Mata Amritanandamayi…. I offer my hearty good wishes on behalf of all those gathered here.
“Respected religious leaders and my dear friends, it is my pleasure to participate in this Interfaith Conference, which has proposed a significant theme under the caption ‘Religions Embracing for Peace & Harmony.’ I am all the more delighted that this conference is organised in the context of the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Mata Amritanandamayi, acclaimed personification of Universal Motherhood and love, which is based on the great virtues of compassion, patience and forgiveness.
“As you all know, my presence here bears with it a representative character, placing on me the obligation of presenting the Christian perspective in the discussion of the theme. I’m aware the representatives of some other world religions are also present here to enrich us with their contributions. I’m asked to explain how religion would, in the Christian perspective, promote peace and harmony in the human society—negatively said: ‘Why religion is not a hindrance to achieve a peaceful and harmonious life in the human society.’
“The theme ‘religion for promoting peace and harmony’ assumes a special significance against the background of the actual situation of rivalry, conflict and even hatred that seems to have crept into the structural religious life of the followers of religions. Could it be that religion as such is at fault? Or some other factors that are alien or even contrary to the very reality and purpose of religion? It is accepted by all that religions promote love and care for each other, and that no religion worthy of its name encourages hatred and inequity. Hence it is worthwhile to delve deep into the problem and strike at the root cause of the evil that has a variety of progenies. I may confine myself to the Christian perspective.
“On the outset, I would like to clarify that Christianity is not a mere religion—religion taken in its primordial meaning as a quest for the Absolute and the consequent building up of a relationship with the Supreme Being in terms of worship through ritual practices. In the Christian perspective, religion includes also another constituent element called faith. Here, faith may be understood as the content of faith, matters to be believed and lived, which are the words and deeds of God—that is, what God has spoken and what God has done for mankind and the world.
“Faith can also be understood as a human act in terms of a response to the self-revealing God. Christianity, therefore, includes the whole natural process of man’s quest for God and the resultant realities he has discovered and practically experienced on his way to God. But these realities and experiences remain subject to an enrichment and transformation from the time of his encounter with the self-revealing God. At this stage, religion is understood and practiced in accordance with the intervention and guidance of the self-revealing God. Thus, Christianity is acknowledged as a religion in this comprehensive meaning.
“In Christianity, it is believed that God has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, and that he is the word of God eternally subsisting with God and has become man in time. In the person of Jesus Christ, the human nature has been united to Him so that He is true God and true man. It is believed in Christianity that Jesus Christ remains the central focus of humanity and the norm for Christian religious practices. It is only against this comprehensive understanding of Christian religion that we can assess its impact and bearing in bringing about fulfillment. Man’s love for God is seen mainly as a response to God’s love. Similarly, the love of neighbour is sharing in God’s love for all and sharing it with each other.
“I may hasten to point out Mataji’s plea for the awakening of Universal Motherhood, in which qualities of love, compassion, patience and forgiveness are abundantly invoked. In this perspective, a genuine and authentic practice of Christianity will certainly be a sure means of achieving peace and harmony in our society. This is clearer still when we consider and understand the real nature and meaning of peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war or conflicts. As one of the Christian Saints, Saint Augustine of the 4th Century, puts it: ‘It is the tranquility of order, an order established by God and maintained by Him. Peace on earth, which all men of every era have most eagerly yearned for, can be firmly established and sustained only if the order laid down by God be beautifully observed.’
“To maintain that order of tranquility, there are four essential conditions to be maintained in the society. They are truth, justice, love and freedom. These are the strong pillars on which peace is built up and sustained. Peace is at stake and this harmony is lost when all, or any, of these pillars are thwarted or weakened. Close attention to each of these four essential conditions of peace is required to evaluate the possibility of sustaining peace in our society. That would reveal our proximity to the goal of world peace, viz a viz our struggle for attaining it. If religions have a role in the attainment of peace and harmony in the human society, in the world it is done through the strengthening of these essential conditions as the bedrock of peace. This, in turn, is a matter of human mind and heart in times of inner transformation, which, in fact, is the realm of religion. The source of good or evil is the heart of men, on the individual or collective level. It is interesting to note Mataji’s answer in the interview with the Rudder-Finn Group. ‘What is the way to global peace?’ they asked. ‘That is simple,’ Mataji answered. ‘First, the change should take place within; then the world will change automatically. Peace will prevail.’
“It is therefore firmly affirmed that a genuine and authentic practice of religion—for that matter, of Christian religion by the followers of Christiantity—is a matter of extreme importance in the attainment of peace and harmony in the world. Now that all religions are getting together to achieve this end, their spiritual energy has to be pulled together, avoiding even the semblance of division and dissipation, leave alone rivalry and conflict. It is to be noted here that this dialogue of religions and their universal openness to each other does not involve or demand the undermining or contempt of religious principles or doctrines of each one. Adherence to one’s own convictions and the right to maintain them and to share them with others is a basic feature of a true dialogue. On the other hand, intolerance of others’ stands and aggressive attempt of imposition of one’s convictions on others, condemning their positions, are nothing but detestable fundamentalism that destroy religious harmony and social tranquility in the human society.
“I hope this Interfaith Conference will promote the true values of religions and help the religions to remain instrumental in bringing about worldwide peace and harmony among the people of the world. While I thank the organisers of this international Interfaith Conference for having given me the opportunity to share my religious and faith convictions with you, I wish and pray that God Almighty guide us all to our eternal destiny as designed in and by his providential love.