ATLANTA, Ga. (Nov. 1, 2007) – In recognition of his efforts to advance Christian-Muslim relations and provide care for those in need, Bishop Salim Ghazal of Lebanon will receive the 2007 Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award. The award will be presented to Bishop Ghazal November 4 at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.
Ordained a priest in the Order of the Savior in 1958, Father Ghazal was assigned to an area near Sidon, Lebanon, in 1961. There he taught religion to both Christian and Muslim students. Though Fr. Ghazal’s area of instruction was Christianity, he arranged with the sheikh leading Islam classes to learn and teach each other’s material — thus illustrating the potential for inter-religious cooperation.
In 1990, Fr. Ghazal and like-minded Muslims and Christians founded the Center for Dialogue and Development, which arranges symposiums, lectures, conferences and weekly discussion groups to encourage inter-religious cooperation. The organization also supports a retirement home, works with Habitat for Humanity to offer no-profit homeownership loans and offers computer training and Internet access. Additionally, the bishop serves as Lebanon’s national chairman for Habitat for Humanity.
The Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award has been given annually since 1964 to commemorate the 1963 Encyclical “Pacem in Terris” of Pope John XXIII. The award was created by the Davenport Catholic Interracial Council of the Diocese of Davenport in Iowa. Since 1976, the award has been presented by the Quad Cities Pacem in Terris Coalition, which includes representatives from the Davenport Diocese, Churches United of the Quad Cities, St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., Bridges of Faith and Pax Christi Quad Cities. Six of the award’s recipients, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Lech Walesa, also received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Bishop Ghazal has served as the national chairman for Habitat for Humanity Lebanon (HFHL) since its inception in 2001. Over the last five years, HFHL has sheltered thousands of displaced Lebanese families in more than 60 mixed communities in south Lebanon by providing the necessary support through provision of material financial, and technical assistance, which enables families to reconstruct, repair, renovate or complete their homes and make them decent, healthy and safe. Working in partnership with volunteers, faith groups and the new homeowner families, HFHL has played an important role in renewing the concept of development in a country that has focused primarily on economic growth since its civil war.
About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built more than 225,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org/ .