|Don Shan Zefi, Chancellor
Brothers and Sisters,
On behalf of the Catholic Church I have the honor to compliment this Interfaith Conference on Coexistence and Dialogue organized by the Serbian Orthodox Church and Norwegian Church Aid here in Peja / Pec Patriarchate on 2nd and 3rd May 2006.
We express our gratitude to the host of the Conference Metropolitan Amfilohije of Montenegro, to the senior religious leaders who jointly initiated this event, which came in the right time and which is much needed. Unfortunately among us today is not the late Bishop Mark Sopi, whose contribution and commitment to dialogue and ecumenism was outstanding. We believe that he is spiritually today with us as he was a person who promoted this kind of initiatives.
Even before arriving at this event today, just by seeing the agenda and the list of invited participants who are senior religious leaders and international officials, we felt a need to pray to God to lighten up the minds of all participants in order that we can find out what we have in common and what divides us, in order to move forward with one spirit of brotherhood. And that we may concretely identify initiatives which will make this conference to represent something of importance for peace, for mutual respect, for coexistence, for interfaith and inter ethnic collaboration, and above of all, for the brotherly love between communities because also we are obliged to resemble the Creator, Him who is a love.
In the time before the years of war in 99, we had very poor formal mutual interfaith relations, but fortunately the situation changed immediately after the war, which undoubtedly shows a new direction in the renewal of reconciliation even though war in it self was not of a religious character.
We should not forget the various inter religious meetings inside and outside the country, in Prishtina, Vienna, Amman, Oslo, Sarajevo, Ankara and Tirana. Those meetings positively represented a release of the general tensions in our society and therefore the main feeling of gratitude goes towards the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP) and to Norwegian Church Aid.
Even today we can still remember the scenes of forced displacement in the past, during and after the war, massacres and demolitions of religious sites, which were not a part of our tradition. Memories about the past should even more represent incentives for a continuous theological progress for honest dialogue and not for hypocritical rhetoric, and it should help us in the empowerment of brotherly relationships here in Kosovo among Catholics, Orthodox and Muslim brothers.
Believing in interfaith dialogue and in ecumenism as a basis at the start of this new millennium where there is a lot of discussions and writings about possible clashes of civilizations, cultures and religions, interfaith meetings have a specific value and cannot be neglected at all.
Therefore, I really wish that the next meetings should be more focused on essential content rather than in formalities, or as we say “ just for sake of it” , and to be more focused on actual issues and orientated towards the future in order that we can improve mutual understanding.
The holy and very desirable proverb, “ut unum sint”, which vas very often stated by his holiness Pope John Paul II, represents an obligation towards one union of all people of good will, guides us not to divide, but to unify citizens and religious communities in the one and only God in whom we believe.
The theological points of view which I have mentioned above should motivate us in order that the meetings during this 2 day conference will not be just gestures of courtesy, but sincere answers to the various challenges in the society with the purpose that causes which are still separating us will be jointly alleviated as far as possible for us as human beings.
The accumulated conflicts after the wars in the past disable us to look ahead clearly, and is naturally aggravating mutual understanding and the understanding of faith.
I hope that there will be no obstacles on our road of good will; we should be allowed to walk forward with strong hope and with God’s help, especially during this year when we expect that the Kosovo issue to be solved in favor of all Kosovo citizens. In this regard we should give our contribution, a contribution which consists of peace and dialogue.
In the end we wish this conference to be accompanied with our prayers in order that it may be as fruitful as possible.
Don Shan Zefi, Chancellor