El Salvador: Interfaith Forum on Justice, Forgiveness & Reconciliation

LAC

On Tuesday, October 25, an Interfaith Forum on Justice, Forgiveness & Reconciliation was held by the Council of Religions for Peace El Salvador chapter. The Global Network of Religions for Children El Salvador gave logistic support, graphic design, and event protocol.


Religions for Peace El Salvador is organized through a Council comprising representatives from different expressions of faith, motivated by the desire to eliminate prejudice and establish peace. The Council of Religions for Peace El Salvador has a binding moral mandate given its enormous potential for joint action through initiatives that contribute to interfaith education and the elimination of prejudice.

For its part, GNRC works on the issue of reconciliation as a cross-cutting theme in the ethics education processes that it carries out with children and youth through interfaith spaces.

Seven expressions of faith participated, including secular spirituality, presenting each community’s teachings on the Forum theme. The executive assistant to the Mesoamerican Moderator for Religions for Peace presented the religious representatives to the Forum. A symbolic representative of secular spirituality, the vice-rector of Dr. Jose Matias Delgado University addressed the representatives and public at the Forum.

The speakers addressed the audience in the name of the religious communities that make up the Council of Religions for Peace. The representative for the Catholic church, a Franciscan priest, focused his speech on the link that justice, forgiveness and reconciliation share with the individual’s personalconscience, and the erroneous concept of justice that favors the dualism of enemies/friends, according to which God would not be creative love but rather an avenging judge; the pastor representing Emmanuel Baptist Church spoke of Psalm 85, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other,” and reflected on this. From the protestant viewpoint, the Lutheran bishop referred to the historical commitment that Salvadoran Society has with justice in order to guarantee social reconciliation; and, for his part, the Rabbi of the Israeli Community of El Salvador recalled the mandate expressed in Leviticus 19:18: “Do not seek revenge nor bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.” And he added the story in the Talmud that tells of when a foreigner addressed the scholar Shammai and requested to convert to judaism, as long as he could explain the fundamental principles of the Torah while he stood on one foot. Shammai rejected him immediately, considering his request to be illogical. Whereas the Sage Hillel, when the same request was made, accepted the challenge saying: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” The representative from the Episcopal Anglican Church introduced a new variable on the theme: The truth, reflecting on the fact that justice is not possible without the guarantee of knowledge of the truth on the part of the victims and the survivors, and that only the application of justice could insure reconciliation. The final participant in the Forum, expressed by the representative of the National Spiritual Assembly, highest religious authority of the Bahá’í Community of El Salvador, focused on the application of justice, forgiveness and reconciliation in their own spheres of action in human life: At the level of the individual person, the institutions, and society. This application makes it possible to overcome the paradox between justice and forgiveness, propounding that they are not contradictory, but rather complement each other in society when individuals learn to forgive, but institutions guarantee the application of justice, whereas society is in charge of repairing the social fabric through the construction of reconciliation.

Finally, the Forum moderator, a member of the faculty at the School of Journalism at the host University, facilitated a round of feed back from the attendees. One of the perspectives in the forum included an interesting story by Jorge Luis Borges:
 
Abel and Cain met after Abel’s death. Walking through the desert they recognized each other from afar, because they were both tall. The brothers sat on the ground, built a fire and ate. They kept silent, as tired people do at the end of the day. In the sky, there was a star that had yet to be named. In the firelight, Cain noticed the mark the stone left on Abel’s forehead, and dropped the morsel he was about to put in his mouth and asked that his crime be forgiven. Abel responded:

- Did you kill me, or did I kill you? I no longer recall; here we are, together as before.

- Now I know that you have really forgiven me – Cain said – because forgetting is forgiving. I will try to forget as Abel said slowly: That is the way it is. While remorse lasts, guilt will last.”

Written by Gabriela Velis
GNRC EL SALVADOR

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