Peace – A Divine Gift and Human Responsibility

Speech of H. B. Patriarch Daniel of the Romanian Orthodox Church addressing the IEPC expert consultation on "Peace Ethics in Orthodoxy", Patriarchal Palace, Bucharest, 30 June 2009.

First of all, we address you a warm welcome here, at the Patriarchal Palace in Bucharest and congratulate you for having chosen the Romanian Patriarchate as venue of this Orthodox Consultation on the theme of the teaching and practice of the ethics of peace in the Orthodox Church.

At the same time, we express our joy to be co-organizers of this international meeting – together with the Institute for Theology and Peace, with the World Council of Churches and with Institute for Peace Studies in Eastern Christianity – which analyzes from an Orthodox perspective this subject always topical, not only in theory, but also in practice.

We may say the theme of peace is as old as the existence of the human being, because, after falling into sin, the human being became potentially creator of feud, of conflicts in relations with his fellow beings, due to his lack of love and self-sufficiency.

With the incarnation of the Son of God in history, the human being is called to the peace of Christ, which must dwell in his heart (cf. Colossians 3:15) because, as Saint Paul the Apostle teaches us, “He (Christ) is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). In this sense, man’s peace with the other fellow beings is the reflection of an inner peace that Christ gives, as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:5), to those who look for and promote peace.

The world we live in is, certainly, a world of the affirmation of the desire of domination over other people, in all fields of human life: political, economical and social, which generates conflicts of inter-human, inter-ethnic and even inter-religious interests. Faced with such negative attitudes, Christians are called to fight against the selfish passions, such as greed, wish of domination, fury and violence, through prayer and fasting, education and dialogue, reconciliation and cooperation in humanitarian and social actions, attitudes and actions that restore to man the value of being created in the image of the merciful, peaceful and people loving God.

Thus, peace is lived existentially as a transforming and consecrating reality, immanent to the human person and, paradoxically, at the same time, transcendent to the world. In this sense, Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea of Cappadochia, while interpreting the words of the Holy Scriptures: “His peace will have no boundary” (Isaiah 9:6) and “It is My own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does” (John 14:27) says “This is why ‘there is no boundary to His peace’, because it is a gift higher than the world”. As a “gift”, peace is granted personally and received personally. Starting from the premises that the person is manifested as such in the multitude of relations with the other persons, we understand why peace, lived personally, as a divine gift, has a transforming efficiency over the relations among all the members of the human society.

We bless the works of this consultation and wish you every success in your efforts as promoters of peace and human dignity.




† Daniel
Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church