National Commentary

Reclaiming the ‘Ecumenical,’ Part 2

nfbenton-mugWith a minimum of fanfare at the Vatican Tuesday, Pope Francis was the lead signatory at a meeting of the Global Freedom Network of a declaration identifying human trafficking, forced labor and prostitution and organ trafficking as “crimes against humanity.”

Others signing the document were the head of the Anglican communion, two rabbis, a Hindu from India, a Vietnamese Buddhist, an Egyptian imam and an Iraqi ayatollah.

The real news in this gathering had less to do with the content of the proclamation, as important as its contents are. The truly amazing component was the makeup of the participants. In a world that is being torn asunder by ever more rigid divisions among peoples, most of them based on ideology or religious dogma, to witness the gathering at the Vatican Tuesday (CNN aired footage) in this day and age was a welcome sight, indeed.

If the human race is ultimately to have a chance on this planet, it will be because of gatherings like this one, where bases for common values are sought. None of the clerics there, including Pope Francis, had to give up anything of their own cherished faith traditions to be there. In all those traditions, it is only radical fringe elements who insist on inviolable purity of their own beliefs to prevent them from acknowledging any validity of others.

Our problem in the world now is that such radical fringe elements of these religions have in many cases seized the initiative and are using intolerance and violence to keep collective discourse and action between faiths from happening.

The current state of affairs comes not by accident, but as the result of sinister political intelligence elements seeking gain for their patrons through the sewing of discord and war. Look no further for this than the American “military and industrial complex” identified by President Eisenhower in his farewell address to find from whence such evil lives.

In the U.S., these elements have always agitated for discord and chaos, and it can be credibly hypothesized that they are responsible for the quasi-coup that took place in the U.S. with the assassination of President Kennedy in 1962 (as he was resisting an escalation of hostilities in Vietnam), and subsequently the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy in 1968.

Without the stomach to wholly carry out this agenda, President Lyndon Johnson stepped away from the job and Richard Nixon moved in to complete the Vietnam operation, although he and his patrons encountered a major setback when elements in favor of peace turned the U.S. population against the war.

On the domestic propaganda front, these evil forces proliferated the hateful, divisive philosophy known as postmodernism, a bestial “each against all” world view, and a “perpetual war” foreign policy associated with neo-conservatism. With this they climbed back into power with the “Reagan revolution” and massively consolidated their control in the aftermath of 9/11 with the pervasive “homeland security” and Iraqi invasion aspects of their operations.

So now, whatever the pretext, and human trafficking is most certainly a legitimate one, for overcoming the neo-cons’ relentless push for discord and war’s this revives the hope for a humanity that can find the moral backbone and resolve to root out and bring to justice this “perpetual war” faction. This requires a revival of the “ecumenical” movement that flowed from the immediate aftermath of World War II along with the founding of the United Nations and the almost unanimously-hailed “International Declaration of Human Rights.”

It is encouraging to see that someone as influential as Pope Francis, and well as Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of the Orthodox Christians who addressed the confab at the Vatican Tuesday by video link, affirm this approach.

Along with their Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Protestant colleagues, they’ve unleashed something which could set the entire world on a new path, a path of peace and universal human dignity.

This won’t be easy, but advancing this line of discourse and action is perhaps the most important business humankind can be about nowadays. It will meet stiff resistance, including from many claiming to be acting from faith.

To be continued.