Europe Focus 2007

During the Enver Hoxha regime, thousands of bunkers were built. This one, topped by a cross, is near Gjirokaster.

Make me a Channel of Your Peace

Challenged to overcome violence in Europe

Saint Francis of Assisi, has given us an example of peace making and peaceful living. The Prayer of a Peace Maker, attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, is known very widely and we all can join into the supplication with our heart and mind: Make me an Instrument of Your Peace. This prayer was chosen as the theme for the Focus on Europe 2007 of the Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV) by the Steering Group, composed of young adults from all over Europe. The theme invites us to accept the challenge of overcoming violence in Europe actively and intentionally, while relying on God's promise and power, not ours.

Life, and each human life, is a gift of God - so is peace! These gifts compel us to being joyful, but also responsible, as individuals, as citizens and as communities. Whether we speak of human rights, human dignity, or human security, the indiscriminate value of human life constitutes a basic notion for understanding just peace. God is intentional about life in its fullness, of each and every human being. Why should we not be intentional? Why would we put national or material security over human security? Why would we put the safety of earthly possessions over the sanctity of life?

In considering the European context, the Steering Group identified several key issues. These issues are already being addressed by many among us and most of them will be considered by the European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu, Romania, September 2007. Further exploration in the framework of the DOV Focus on Europe 2007 will vary depending on local contexts. Overcoming violence, physical, psychological, sexual, and violence in the form of deprivation and negligence implies making the connections between the issues, telling our stories, comparing our notes and coordinating our actions, across generations and across ethnic and religious and communities.

We are challenged to see, name and overcome violence with regard to...

            … Trafficking - thousands of people, mostly women and children are subject to exploitation

            … Youth - the violence industry is aiming at youth as prime consumers

            … Migration - European countries face this major challenge of our time of globalization

            … Militarization - military spending, service, and development jeopardizes just peace

            … Domestic and Interpersonal Violence -causes more deaths than armed conflict

            … Human Security - a common task beyond borders and above national interests

            … The Environment - facing the consequences of violence towards the earth

            … Violence in the Church - looking within ourselves

            … A Theology of Just Peace - churches moving from just war theory to just peace practise

The Decade to Overcome Violence (2001 - 2010) calls on churches, ecumenical organizations and all people of good will to work together at all levels with communities, civil movements, people of all living faiths for peace, justice and reconciliation.