Mich. interfaith leaders sign ‘declaration of life,’ to be presented to pope in U.S.
WARREN, Mich. – In a document to be presented to Pope Benedict XVI during his U.S. pilgrimage, Michigan religious leaders denounced terrorism at home, in the womb and abroad March 31 here.
“It is time that we as faith leaders condemn the senseless loss of life all around the world and at home,” read a six-paragraph “Declaration for Life from faith traditions of Jewish, Muslim and Christian.” “Global war with countless human casualties depresses and demeans the dignity and worth of humans made in God’s image and likeness. God help moral leaders rise together to stop the carnage enveloped in a culture of fear holding hostage the conscience of America.”
The 400-word document was signed by: Father Lawrence Ventline, of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit and director of Care of the Soul Counseling at Sacred Heart Church in Roseville, Mich.; Iman Steve Elturk, president of the Islamic Organization of North America; Victor Ghalib Begg, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan; Rev. David Kasbow and Rev. Earnest Hatcher, co-chairmen of the American Clergy Leadership Conference; and J. David Evers, president of the Macomb County (Mich.) Interfaith Center for Racial Justice.
The document will be presented to Pope Benedict by Ghalib Begg on April 17 when he meets with the pontiff and interfaith representatives in Washington, D.C. The pope, during his April 15 – 20 trip to the United States, will join Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus and representatives of other religions for a prayer service at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in the early evening of his third day in the nation’s capital.
The document follows:
“It is time that we as faith leaders come together and condemn the senseless loss of life all around the world, and at home.
“It is time for all faiths to stand together: The Jewish people have deep roots in Iraq. Abraham, the Old Testament patriarch, was born in the ancient city of Ur, in what is now southern Iraq. Abraham fathered Isaac, who was renamed Israel by God and promised a nation. Jesus is said to have descended from that line. Abraham’s other son, Ishmael, was also promised a nation in the Bible. He is considered the progenitor of the Arab peoples. From the branch of Ishmael, Islam’s central figure, the Prophet Mohammed, descended.
“The time has come for leaders to stand together in holding high regard for human life across the globe when so much conflict, carnage and human bloodshed mocks the mandate of the Hebrew scriptures: ‘Thou shall not kill.’ The Christian scriptures: ‘Love one another!’ And the Islamic scriptures: ‘Killing an innocent person unjustly is like killing all of mankind.’
“Global war with countless human casualties depresses and demeans the dignity and worth of humans made in God’s image and likeness. God helps moral leaders rise together to stop the carnage enveloped in a culture of fear holding hostage the conscience of America.
“The children of Adam must stop killing each other. None of our faiths tolerate unjust killing. It is required by our faiths to stand up against all forms of terror, whether committed by individuals or by sovereign states. We must call for justice and peace on earth. God Almighty expects us, as the children of Abraham, to speak out against acts of unwarranted violence, no matter where and by whom.
“Certainly, war is the most primitive method of resolving conflicts. We urge a new era of reconciliation where we can end conflicts by loving people on both sides of all issues. God loves the Palestinians and the Jews. He loves Muslims and Christians. He loves African Americans and whites alike. God loves Democrats and Republicans, Catholics and Protestants.
“We stand here in repentance because none of us have done enough to love each other and reconcile with one another. We pledge to live up a higher standard and call on others to do the same. May God forgive us for our failures, guide us in healing and help us to usher in a new era of peace.”
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