At a conference on Religion, Identity and Conflict, at St Mary’s University on 2 December, Cardinal Vincent spoke of the role that religion can play in facilitating contact and dialogue between people to resolve conflict. Instead of marginalising religious belief or simply seeing it as a problem, he explained that ‘the potential within religious traditions’ can be harnessed ‘for peace and just concern’.
The Cardinal was responding to an address given by Dr Christopher Moran which outlined some of the contributing factors to the work for peace in Northern Ireland. Calling to mind too the situation in the Holy Land, he spoke of a similar initiative, led by Rabbi Michael Melchior, to bring together religious leaders from all three Abrahamic faiths to use ‘the strengths and resources of religious belief’ to seek peace in the Land and to work tirelessly to promote a life of mutual respect and to educate future generations, whilst continuing to call on political leaders to take initiative.
He recalled the words of Pope Benedict at the university on his visit to England in 2010: ‘He insisted that to find peace we have to move from seeing religious belief as a problem to be solved to understanding that it is a great resource to be rediscovered.’
‘In this country, we too are travelling the same road,’ added the Cardinal, ‘even if our steps are small. Dialogues are taking place, focusing on the nature and understanding of violence. The role of religious minorities is being quietly explored at a personal level, while more public bodies reconsider their attitude to religious belief.’
The conference was hosted by St Mary’s University in partnership with the Institut Catholique.