Panel of speakers

World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay speaks at the event  “No More Wars, Can We?” held at the United Nations in Geneva on 10 May 2024.


Pillay highlighted that, even though peace is so much needed today in the face of wars, conflicts, and violence, political leaders, societal leaders, and religious leaders are not prioritising peace. 

We seem to think that the solution to deal with our problems is through violence and we seem to sustain a culture of violence,” he said. We are losing or have already lost the desire for dialogues to find peaceful solutions to our numerous challenges.”

He reminded the gathering that the WCC 11th Assembly in 2022 expressed grave concern about the instrumentalisation of religious language, authority, and leadership to justify, support or bless” armed aggression or any violence and oppression in sharp contrast to the Christian calling to be peacemakers.

For an end to wars and for peace to prevail, Pillay called on the gathering to challenge the powers and structures that incite war and violence and work for justice, healing, and reconciliation.

He further elaborated reconciliation as a breakthrough to a new place, healing wounds and fractures, a transcendent value, and a religious practice that restores right relations between people or groups, with the earth, and with God. It is also one by which religious groups make peace with each other, defusing intrareligious and interreligious exclusivism, misunderstanding, and prejudice, which historically have been at the root of so much conflict,” he said. Interfaith peacebuilding today includes interreligious dialogue and reconciliation.”

He added: So, achieving peace entails nurturing reconciliation in oneself, within one's community, and with others who are different from oneself, beyond the boundaries of just my people.’ ”

In a question-and-answer session at the meeting, Pillay concluded that for the realisation of peace and the cessation of all wars, religious communities have to listen to youth and include them in their decision-making processes. He added that religious communities can only remain relevant if they are responsible for their space in society and take ownership of the narratives and actions that will lead to peace.