“Without forgiveness there is no future for our country”

This is the title of the book of Anglican archbishop Desmond Tuto of South Africa, a Nobel Prize Peace awardee. It describes his touching experiences of reconciling his oppressed black people with their white oppressors who had massacred thousands of black South Africans under the infamous apartheid policy of government. When Nelson Mandela, who had spent 17 years in prison, became president he did not take revenge against his jailers and opponents. Instead he launched a nation-wide process of reconciliation by creating the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with Archbishop Tuto as chairman. He even invited his mortal enemies to his inauguration as president of the republic.

Last Thursday 21 September 2017 the Bishops-Ulama Conference and World Vision, Inc. in partnership with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and Ateneo de Davao University co-sponsored a symposium entitled Conversation on Forgiveness in Christianity and Islam. The venue was the Ateneo and the resources persons were Dr. Chawkat Macoury, a Christian theologian from Syria, and Dr. Hamid A. Barra, a Muslim professor from Mindanao State University in war torn Marawi City.

It was our hope as organizers that the invited participants of bishops, ulama, priests, imams, pastors, theology professors, and religious educators and madrassah teachers will help us in the process of reconciling Mindanawons. For, living with hatred and animosity, there can be no future for our country without mutual forgiveness. Pope St. John Paul II used to say, “There is no peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness.”

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