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On Quieting Zealots and Achieving Peace

Interview With Gary Krupp

NEW YORK, MARCH 27, 2007 (Zenit) - To achieve peace, religions must respond to their own zealots, with the support of governments and media, says an interreligious-relations expert who was recently honored by Benedict XVI.

Gary Krupp of the Pave the Way Foundation, a U.S-based, nondenominational organization founded by him and his wife, aims to eliminate the use of religion as a tool to achieve personal agendas and cause conflict. Their work to advance peace includes culture, education and technology.

For example, Pave the Way was responsible for giving an ancient papyrus containing parts of the Gospels to the Vatican library recently. And it has met with Palestinian leaders to search for solutions to the conflict with Israel.

Benedict XVI recognized Krupp for his work by bestowing upon him the rank of Knight Commander with a Silver Star of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great. Krupp was also honored by Pope John Paul II in 2000.

In this interview with us, Krupp speaks of priorities in interreligious relationships and signs of hope for the future.

Q: The Pave the Way foundation is working in a plethora of causes, including relations between Jews, Muslims, Orthodox and Catholics, a resolution to the Palestine-Israeli conflict, and in cultural and technological fields as well. What are the primary priorities?

Krupp: Our primary priority is the fulfillment of our mission to eliminate the malevolent use of religion. This should be the common denominator that everyone can agree on. Creating a fertile environment for this must be advanced by identifying and eliminating the obstacles that exist between the faiths.

For example, a priority is helping with the finalization of the fundamental agreements between the Holy See and the state of Israel.

Others are the affirmation of the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem by the Israeli government, helping to establish the Wasatia Party, or any electoral party, for peace and honesty in the Palestinian territories.

I would like to see the use of the Cenacle restored to the Church which will greatly enhance Christian tourism, helping all people in the region, as well as return this most important shrine to Christian use.

We would like to host a conference on religious extremism where the participants will be lay people who will only meet with their own religions to identify examples of there own extremism and how the everyday person can develop a real workable solution to respond to violence.

Over 85% of the world is secular and we must appeal to them to help, if we hope to curb violence.

Q: In a recent speech you gave to ambassadors in London, you mention the role of media, saying that many of them "tend to make a bad situation worse and typically illustrate events in a way which are crafted to inflame emotions." You say that media reports often contradict your personal experience. Could you explain this?

Krupp: The media is simply a business which generates its income from advertising and distribution. Sensationalizing a story directly affects sales.

I have seen on too many occasions where the media will take a biased position in its reporting style, resulting in intelligent people getting bad information resulting in incorrect assessments of the real conditions.

I travel to Israel for our work many times a year and the picture of hatred and discord painted by the media is simply wrong.

As a Jew I can say that I have been deeply offended by the Catholic bashing that I see here in the international press. Typically with the millions of examples of charitable outreach and ministries around the world, rarely are these wonderful benevolent acts ever reported. If someone commits some terrible act the media will be all over them in a feeding frenzy, but reports of the good that wonderful men and women do is hard to find in the international press.

Q: The mission of the Pave the Way Foundation seeks to "eliminate the use of religion as a tool to achieve personal agendas and to cause conflicts." You suggest that governments have a role to play in this. How do you see that working?

Krupp: I told the ambassadors that we are facing a world where the name of religion is being used as a tool to justify personal agendas and malevolent acts. Almost every conflict on earth is motivated by the intentional misuse and manipulation of religion and the holy texts. Religions must become active defenders of God's name. I think that demonstrated action by quoting the holy text in the defense of religion and the condemnation of violence will be very effective.

I said that governments cannot respond to religious zealots, only the religions can. I urged the governments to reach out to religious leaders from all ...

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