Monsignor Sheeran's welcoming remarks are taken from former Israeli Prime Minister and Nobel Peace laureate Shimon Peres' address to the Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations' World Leaders Forum on September 29, 2004.
Peres addressed an audience of over one thousand students and receivedan honorary doctorate degree from Seton Hall University for hislifetime commitment to peace. Mr. Peres spoke about the war onterrorism saying, "It is not a war against Muslims. It is a war foreverybody, including the Muslims." He also addressed the conflict inIsrael, saying that it cannot be resolved without the creation of twostates, one Palestinian and one Israeli.
I welcome you all here today, members of the Seton Hall community, our guests and distinguished visitors.
Almost everyone in this convocation today, as Jews, Christians andMoslems, is, in a special sense, a son or daughter of Abraham.
Four thousand years ago, in what is southern Iraqtoday, the Living God spoke to Abraham. And told him to go out, notknowing where he was to journey. To go out. And a heritage, a landwould be given his descendents. And these descendents would be "morenumerous than the stars in the sky." And so it was. And so it is, todayalmost 1 of every 2 persons on this planet is a child or spiritualdescendent of Abraham.
There was another part to that promise in Genesis:Your descendents will be a blessing for all the peoples of the earth.And so it has been — in ways beyond Abraham's imagination. The faithand the contributions of the Jews, and Christians and Moslems havebeen, and are, stupendous—in ways too manifold to ever list in awelcome.
Yet, these children have not always been a blessing.Their divisions and hatreds, their wars and pillage, have been one ofhistory's saddest themes.
The healing of the world, binding up its wounds, is a hope that seems almost impossible.
The quest for peace is illusive. Yet, each of our traditions speaks tous of peace/shalom/salim as God's great, enduring gift to us.
Yitzhak Rabin once wrote: "If we want peace, we need to be the firstones to offer our hand in reconciliation." How eloquently he summed upthe highest aspiration of all three of our religious traditions. Theprophet Mohammed knew this and wrote that "even if you extend your handto kill me, I will not extend mine to do the same because I fear God,the Lord of the whole world" (Quran 5, 28).
Seton Hall's John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and InternationalRelations is pleased to host Nobel Laureate Shimon Peres today. We arehonored to honor him, honored to hear his words. Our School, now 7years old, still fledgling, is a bold youth, believing that peace isnot merely achieved by reaching agreements but by understanding oneanother through dialogue. We have been courageous in being a leader asthe United Nation's Secretariat for its groundbreaking Dialogue AmongCivilizations project; in welcoming, just 1 day after 9/11, PresidentKhatami of Iran to speak to us on this campus; and in asking GerryAdams, only days after the Good Friday agreement was signed, to comehere and speak. And the list goes on.
Seton Hall, a Catholic University, recognizes the sorry state ofpeace in our world and the crimes that those who claim to be with Godhave and now commit. We believe that any crime in the name of religionis, in fact, the greatest crime against religion. And rabbis andpriests and imams must not be afraid to raise their voices on thisposition. As a traditional Moslem saying has it: the prophet was asked"who is the infidel? If a neighbor does not feel safe in your presence,you are that infidel."
We children of Abraham have much healing to do. The words of Jesusare always before us: "Blessed are those who make peace." They are notonly Abraham's descendants; Jesus says they are God's children."
As we welcome Mr. Peres, let us never forget the promise given us,the covenants that bind us and the charge that is ours, in our time,today, to advance the cause of understanding, reconciliation and peace.