This past month has been marked by violent conflicts and the displacement of minority religious populations in the Middle East-North Africa region. Syrians, Iraqis, Palestinians and Israelis in particular come deeply to mind. Our hearts cry out when we see innocent people, including the elderly, women and children killed in violent conflicts. Our hearts cry out when violence is used as a justification for more violence, while the innocent lie dead, wounded or homeless.
Tragically, all too often religion is being misused in these situations. All too often, religion is a "victim" of the cynical efforts designed to demonize the other.
As you watched, worked and prayed this last month, you no doubt had in mind your Religions for Peace (RfP) colleagues present in places of conflict. I can share with you that your colleagues were using their faith as a source of strength to resist the great pressures to demonize people of other faiths. Indeed, your colleagues were struggling to find ways to reach out in solidarity for Peace.
We recall the recent 9th World of Assembly of RfP and its theme of "Welcoming the Other." In that Assembly, the delegates were able to discern as a profound consensus that their respective religious traditions called them to actively "welcoming the other." That is our fundamental multi-religious stance. It expresses the fact that diverse religious traditions teach-each one in its own way-that Peace is more that the absence of war; Peace is positive.
Below the painful headlines, you will be pleased to know that your colleagues in RfP around the world continue their work of bridging the divides that so painfully separate human communities. The enclosed Newsletter highlights just a little of our work during the past month.
Also, during the past month, our Muslim brothers and sisters celebrated the end of Ramadan. We congratulate our Islamic brothers and sisters and thank them for