Social Action Office


Promoting a Culture of Peace

At the beginning of 2003 the SAO redefined its operating principles, one of which is: Mutuality - The SAO seeks a world where relationships between persons and among nations are based on equality, mutual respect and the interconnectedness of human life with all of creation.

The choice to take Creating a Culture of Peace as one of four priority areas is obviously connected to this priority. This decision came after reflecting on the current global and national climate of fear and misuse of power and significant rise of fundamentalism. The planning group decided that the focus for 2003 would be to provide material and opportunities for people to reflect on and discuss the issues around a Culture of Peace - to provide individuals with material to reflect on the importance of attitudes and of non-violent ways of living and acting. Other strategies included promoting events organised by other organisations and to host a Culture of Peace Forum.

An evolving process for the SAO is the establishment of Circles – the Sophia Circle, the Water Circle and then the Peace Circle. Those who had indicated their interest in pursuing the Creating a Culture of Peace agenda met and thus the Peace Circle was established. This group decided to begin a reading group and are meeting monthly to read and reflect on the topic. A Peace Forum was planned and held on 25 October 2003.

An unplanned and exciting development in this agenda area has been the establishment of a Women of Faith group. Wendy Flannery rsm asked if, as part of the agenda area of Creating a Culture of Peace, the SAO could include some dialogue around Women and Islam in Australia. The initial goals were to:


  • Challenge the stereotypes of Islamic women generated by Australian media
  • To eliminate the targeted abuse of Islamic women in distinctive clothing, in the context of recent terrorist attacks
  • To build intercultural and interreligious understanding and tolerance.

After several meetings of a small group of three religious and one Muslim women (and engaging the expertise of Pauline Rae smsm in Sydney), a proposal was established to form a group Believing Women for a Culture of Peace. This was an exciting development in progressing a more peaceful world. The vision for this project was:

At a time when people of Islamic faith have become identified in popular understanding with violence and terrorism, with the accompanying rise of stereotyping and abuse of Islamic women, believing women find themselves called to:

  • build alliances that will counter the prevailing divisiveness
  • contribute to a lasting culture of peace, and
  • collectively acknowledge and celebrate the bonding of religious faith.

If you are interested in joining this group please visit their new website for contact details.

Excellent resource: Bridges – the newsletter of the Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations, Columban Mission Institute, c/- Australian Catholic University, Locked Bag 2002, Strathfield NSW 2135 Australia. Phone + 61 2 9352 8010, Facsimile + 61 2 9746 8033, Email

Above are some of the women who make up the group
Believing Women for a Culture of Peace

Up-to-date discussion and reflection material regarding the Catholic Church’s teaching about war is available from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council website.

Click here for a collection of quotes on Peace from Pope John Paul II

Click here for Key Ingredients in an Alternative Asylum Seeker Policy

SAO partners and friends joined in the 2003 Palm Sunday Peace March in Brisbane

Many religious and their colleagues joined the thousands who marched for peace
in Brisbane (and millions all around the world) on 16 February 2003

Peace and Right Relating Links


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