Religious leaders’ irreplaceable role for peace

April 9, 2018

While religious leaders have special place in the social life of Ethiopians, scholars in the field of Theology stress on the fact that they should up their strategic role to work for peace and consensus in times of crisis. 

In the past, Ethiopia’s religious leaders such as Abune Petros, who took part in refusing colonialism and the killing of innocent Ethiopians by fascist Italy and Abune Basilios, who refused to recognize the 1960 coup that would lead the country into chaos and crisis are exemplary leaders that played a key role for justice and peace.

The scholars claim that at the present time also religious leaders have an irreplaceable role in ensuring national peace.

Lecturer at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology Andrew DeCort tells The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopia unfortunately seems to lack religious leadership that, in other contexts, has played strategic roles during times of public crisis.

Exemplifying the contributions of both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Archbishop Desmund Tutu who won Noble Peace Prizes for their extraordinary leadership in helping to resolve entrenched inequality, hatred, and violence in their societies, the Scholar father mentions that Ethiopia needs to have strong religious institutions and leaders to this same effect.

He also says that the role of religious leaders and institutions in securing national peace is often reflected in terms of ‘tolerance.’ 
Andrew further elaborates the point saying that love in every religion is deeper, more personal, sacrificial having vision of living with others and loving them until a beloved community is created.

“The doctrine requires actively working towards others’ well-being, even to so called enemies”.
For Andrew the pattern seen in the Ethiopian society today, especially on social media, are causes or doorways to mass violence which is against the teaching ‘Love your neighbor - all neighbors, across gender, religion, ethnicity, or any other marker of identity.’
Hence, there is an urgent need on the side of religious leaders and institutions to articulate, practice, and advocate this vision for the common good across all boundaries for all people.

“Religious leaders and institutions often remain silent or content to care for their own people in the safety of their own walls. But God’s love requires that we go beyond our own limited communities for the well-being of all.”
He further points out that the dream of national peace and reconciliation becomes a real hope with such religious leadership and highly engaging religious institutions working in the area.

Hence, he says “I fear that we are in grave danger of indifference, antagonism, division, and death. And we urgently need the vision of ‘neighbor-love’ to create a common good of peace, justice, and reconciliation.” 
He mentions that such a move by religious institutions and leaders needs skills to unify and mobilize ordinary people for nonviolent call for justice and reconciliation. “This demands effective religious leadership through speech, action, and organization.”

To continue with the opinions of Ethiopian Christian and Muslim scholars Akalewold Tessema  and Haji Omer Idris, find the original article – here.