HH Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Photo: Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin

HH Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Photo: Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin

Religions for Peace is the world's largest and most representative multi-religious coalition, and as in other multi-faith groups, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and its ecumenical family figure strongly in its leadership bodies.

Take the honorary presidents of Religions for Peace: there are several WCC leaders in that group.

They include Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians of the Armenian Apostolic Church, who is the WCC president of the Oriental Orthodox Church.

Bishop Munib Younan, Bishop Emeritus of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land is also among the honorary presidents of Religions for Peace, as well as Bishop Gunnar J. Stålsett, Bishop Emeritus of Oslo, Church of Norway.

Another Religions for Peace president from the Orthodox tradition is Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana, Durrës and All Albania who has held his position since 2009.

Anastasios has been known for many years as a pioneer in the peaceful coexistence of religious communities in Albania, which has significant numbers of Christians and Muslims.

He was recently re-elected as an honorary Religions for Peace president at its 10th Assembly in Lindau, Germany. The assembly was attended by 900 representatives from more than 100 countries from North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and Oceania.

‘Caring for our common future’

The theme was "Caring for our Common Future – Advancing Shared Well-being".

In its quest to advance effective multi-religious cooperation for peace, Religions for Peace works on global, regional, national, and local levels. That is why it is natural to have such a cross-section of ecumenical players across the spectrum.

One of Religions for Peace latest initiatives was on the protection and sustaining of creation.

Under the Religions for Peace umbrella, religious leaders from all over the world earlier this month united to protect rainforests. The forests provide millions of people with food, shelter, livelihoods, medicine, and clean water.

"If protected and restored, rainforests can provide an indispensable contribution to sustainable development.  Instead, they are at grave risk," said Religions for Peace.

While that statement was released, forests were ablaze on unprecedented scales in South America, Siberia, and Australia, to name a few places.

"Extractive industries and land conversion for agricultural products like beef, soy, palm oil, and pulp and paper are driving tropical deforestation," it said.

Religions for Peace said that, in the last decade alone, an area of forest the size of the United Kingdom, France and Germany combined had been lost forever.

"This destruction is unnecessary and is undermining efforts by the international community to address climate change, sustainable development, and human rights," said the multi-faith body.

Leaders of WCC member churches work for peace

There is also an array of WCC-linked leaders among the co-presidents of Religions for Peace.

Among them are WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit; and vice-moderator of the WCC Central Committee, Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, of the United Methodist Church in the United States.

Other Religions for Peace co-presidents are Rev. Dr Antje Jackelen, archbishop of Uppsala in the Church of Sweden, Rev. Margot Kässmann, former chairperson of the Evangelical Church of Germany and H.E. Archimandrite Philaret Bulekov, vice chairman of the department of external church relations at the Russian Orthodox Church.

H.E. Metropolitan Emmanuel Adamakis, Metropolitan of France of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is one of the four co-moderators for Religions for Peace, the world’s largest multi-religious coalition advancing common action for peace among the world’s religious communities.

WCC's work on Promoting just peace

WCC's Pilgrimage of justice and peace

Learn more about Religions for Peace

Religions for Peace honorary presidents