[Welcome Address. OPAPP Conference in Observance of National Peace Consciousness Month, ADDU, Sept. 20, 2016.]
In the name of the ADDU it is my distinct privilege to welcome the OPAPP and representatives of neighboring universities, colleges and schools in Davao and Mindanao to ADDU as we observe together National Peace Consciousness Month. Yesterday the Bishops-Ulama Conference met in Davao in the name of peace; this afternoon and in the following days, the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Forum (PEPF) meets in the context of the peace negotiations between the GPH the NDFP (CPP-NPA). In the wake of the bomb blast that killed 15 people and wounded 67 others right in front of our Community Center of the First Companions last September 2, we know the fragility of the peace we now enjoy and the urgency that peace be won for the long term.
The God of Islam is a God of peace; Islam is a religion of peace. The God of Christianity is a God of peace; Christianity is a religion of peace. Where we worship God in diverse ways, the peace that we seek is one. We seek this from the depths of our heart, and from the depths of the manner in which we acknowledge one God. Against the history of violence among ourselves, today, where “We are change, Tayo ang pagbabago!” we must dare to dream of a society where all live in peace. Where together “We are peace, Tayo ang kapayapaan.” we must resolve to stand for, advocate and preserve lasting peace.
Furthermore, where we earnestly wage peace, we know that peace is not compatible with social injustice. Peace cannot endure if in our society there are some who are wealthy and privileged at the cost of those who are poor and excluded. The social agendas of religions which recognize a God of compassion, a God who comes “to bring life, life to the full” (Jn 10:10), cannot be different from the agendas of those social revolutionaries who struggle ultimately for true social justice, scandalized at the complacency of religious who worship a God of love yet stomach in society the suffering of the poor. Where “We are the change,” we must be willing to criticize our involvement in and support for a society whose unbridled consumption destroys the environment in favor of the privileged and excludes and marginalizes the poor. Where “We are peace” we must undo our complicity in a socially unjust society of private interests and collaborate in bringing about the peace of the common good – a society where all human beings without exception collectively and individually flourish together as human beings.
Where we are the change, we are the peace, let us from the depths of our relationship to God wage peace. Let us from the depths of our rejection of social injustice, struggle together for social justice and the common good. Let this be the surging of our heart as together we celebrate Peace Consciousness Month!