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No world peace if no peace among religions, says theologian Kueng

If there is not peace among religions, there will be no peace in the world, Swiss-born theologian Hans Kueng has noted during an address during a week of ethics and world peace in the capital city of Colombia.

"The great religions have the conditions necessary to mobilise people to support a planetary ethic: defining moral objectives, proposing instructions and criteria for action, motivating human beings both rationally and emotionally, so that the moral norms may be lived out in practice," said Kueng.

The theologian who had worked in Germany with Pope Benedict XVI when he was Joseph Ratzinger at the University of Tuebingen during the 1960s noted: "In concrete terms, it is about advancing peace and reconciliation between peoples, supporting the demands of social justice and the care of the environment. This is possible because all true religion advances true humanity and, in a definitive way, seeks for men and women to behave in an authentically human way with their neighbour."

Still, Kueng asserted that those who have pushed society forward, had always been people who broke with social consensus. The prophets of the Bible had broken consensus, bringing them into confrontation with the status quo.

Such confrontation, Kueng said, had often ended with the prophets being eliminated. But the ideas of the true prophets continued and in the end imposed themselves.

He said if nobody had broken the consensus, slavery would continue to be accepted, even today and by Christians. Kueng said that Jesus of Nazareth broke religious consensus through his witness, service and weakness, and not through force and power.

His example was followed by prophets who chose to denounce injustice through their service and non-violence.

"Today, we the believers of the different religions cannot continue to try and give answers to the urgent ethical matters from the standpoint of apparently unquestionable criteria and principles, fixed beforehand as if they have a validity situated beyond history," said Kueng. "Even within the diverse Christian positions is it comprehensible to search for eternal solutions from the point of view of moral theology, making use of deductions resulting from an understanding of a universal and immutable human nature or essence."