The Peace Council is a diverse group of religious and spiritual individuals who are internationally known and respected and who have decided to come together, as the Dalai Lama wrote in a recent letter, "to understand one another and work together so that those of us who profess belief in our respective faiths can work for the common cause of humanity." He added, "I believe that such a joint effort can set the right example for the rest of the world."
MissionThe mission of the Peace Council is to demonstrate that peace is possible, and that effective interreligious collaboration to make peace also is possible.
In a world where religion too often is used to justify division, hatred, and violence -- and very seldom used to relieve these problems -- the Peace Councilors offer an alternative: the example of religious leaders working effectively together to relieve suffering and make the world whole.
The Inaugural MeetingThe Peace Councilors met for the first time in November, 1995. They agreed on a statement of purpose and commitment. From many faiths, they had a common concern with their responsibilities face-to-face with suffering. They identified seven interdependent threats to peace:
- religious intolerance;
- war, violence, and the arms trade;
- environmental degradation;
- economic injustice;
- the population "explosion;"
- patriarchy (cultures of domination, hierarchy, and control);
- and oppressive globalization.
The Peace Council supports local peacemakers in regions of special need. It gives practical assistance to local peace efforts and to "communities of peace."
The Peace Council also works with the United Nations, governments, and other non-governmental organizations.
MembershipThe Peace Council began in 1995 with twelve members. It has grown since and may eventually include twenty to thirty members. A current list of Peace Councilors is available elsewhere on this web site.
Membership is by invitation to persons who are:
- respected within their faith communities for how they live and what they do.
- committed to working together in practical ways for peace, and to teaching by example.
Programs: General PrinciplesThe heart of the Peace Council's work is a commitment by the Peace Councilors to help one another in the practical peace-making that has made each Peace Councilor a leader in his or her community. There is no single formula for the programs. They vary depending on what is needed in each area.
The Peace Councilors try to show by example that diverse faiths can work together "for the common needs of the whole community of life." They offer help to local peace initiatives in regions of special need, but only at the invitation of a Peace Councilor who already is active in the area.
The Council prefers to hold its annual meetings in places where the meeting itself can contribute to an ongoing peace process, and where there is an opportunity for a continuing presence or an ongoing program.
The first commitment is to listen and to learn. Peace Council actions or programs should respond to what trusted local peacemakers know will work best. In many cases the Council's first act in a place where people are suffering may be simply what Archbishop Romero called "accompaniment and presence:" planting seeds of hope and strength.
More about the Peace Council's methods: Making Peace