Mons. Sergio Maurizio Soldini is the Prelate of Honor of His Holiness of the Holy Catholic Church, the Academy of Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuosi of the Pantheon and Director Biennial Religious Art. ROME. Rector and Director of Chaplaincy Artists.
Few arguments deserve as much attention and involvement from governmental and
religious authorities all around the world, as the one dealt with in this collection of essays now offered to a larger audience. Dorit Kedar resorts to her long and deep experience of communication with men and women of diverse cultures and religious faiths. This book contains valuable reflections aimed to demonstrate in a clear and concise way how an authentic relationship with God implies love and harmony in the relationship with all human beings and furthermore, with the whole Creation. This great truth is engraved not only on cold, inanimate tablets, but also on the hearts.
The Book of Peace analyses systematically the relationship between religion and peace. Dorit Kedar ploughs in what I call “common ground” and the reader who is impartial regarding his own religious faith, will not hesitate to confirm the ideas put forth by the author. The reflections are boldly, brilliantly and concretely expressed. The chapters follow one another fluently, in a succession of coherent and compact thoughts.
Peace is not only a task to be accomplished. It also cannot be achieved by means of mere human effort, as Dorit Kedar emphasizes. It is, first of all, an attitude obtained through prayer and the appropriate predisposition. More than a result, peace is a process in constant development. The construction of peace is never ended, therefore it is an ongoing challenge. This is where the role of the cultures becomes fundamentally creative. It suffices to consider that no religion exists enveloped by the sociocultural context, but is rooted in it and a transcendent element of it. The dialogue between religion and culture, and between religions themselves, can improve the process and by tearing down the structures of prejudices, promote peace, comprehension and love. The building of peace, precious and precarious at the same time, must arise naturally on the robust fundaments of solidarity and ethics, in the sense of belonging, in love and reciprocal respect, and the affirmation and defense of basic human rights.
Undoubtedly, fanatics and fundamentalists have put religion in bad light. It is not unusual that politicians feed the fire of intolerance and hate. This kind of sick propaganda will turn against its promoters, creating a spiral of violence.
Dorit Kedar aspires to an effective change in hearts and attitudes. She appeals to the good will of those who, accepting their own identity and religious diversity, and at the same time, the responsibility of past errors, will not sneak away from the duty of seeking reconciliation. Their new path will be characterized by humility, honesty, and the shaking of hands so as to build bridges of friendship and solidarity over turbulent waters.
The author evokes Saint Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther King, Gandhi and other fighters for peace.
The ideas presented in this book are not the academic fantasy of an inactive bystander. On the contrary, they are practical and personal, coming from someone who, by her idiosyncrasy, lives this theme to the full, residing as she does, in Israel. Therefore, Kedar talks through the wisdom of experience and proposes a thesis which a dialogue between religions, parallel to that of cultures. This dialogue must contribute to the inevitable and inseparable connection existing between religion and culture. If religion is the real heart of culture, then culture is the area in which religion is conceived and experienced. A healthy
symbiosis exists between the two realities, which united and bound, create a formidable energy of peace.
Although it is true that governments may commit themselves to negotiate and submit peace proposals, and religions can find the way to promote peace, in the last instance the bearer of peace is the individual. To say that peace begins with you and me is not a triviality. We know quite well that interpersonal conflicts are solved only when the personal conflicts are solved as well. He, who is in peace with himself, learns to live in peace with others. He who wishes for peace, must learn to love and he who loves, generates peace. What concerns individuals, may also be applied to society and nations in general, keeping the proper proportions. I hope and pray for the Book of Peace to infuse in the readers of every faith and culture, the conviction that peace must not be a utopia, but a possibility. The religions of the world, in spite of the diversity of their dogmas, traditions,
cultures and customs, may offer an invaluable and essential contribution to the peace process.
It has been for me a particular privilege to write these words of presentation. May I express my wish for the believers of all faiths and credos honestly committed to the search of peace, to find in this book a source of inspiration and an element of encouragement.