Source: (2001) In Forgiveness and reconciliation: Religion, public policy, & conflict transformation, ed. Raymond G. Helmick, S.J., and Rodney L. Petersen, 81-95. With a foreword by Archbishop Desmond M. Tutu. Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press.
Is religion a resource or a problem for resolution of conflicts? Helmick acknowledges that religion has been used for political purposes in conflicts, and that many see religion as basically a negative force in situations of conflict. With respect to Christianity, Helmick traces the use of religion for political purposes to the Constantinian arrangement: church and state as parallel institutions, reflective of one another, within a political or national entity. Helmick calls this the paradigmatic role of the Church. As the Constantinian model eventually fractured in much of the West, a related model developed as the Church sought control over key aspects of culture (marriage, education, caring institutions, and so on). Helmick terms this the pragmatic role of the Church. As this role fades, Helmick posits a parabolic role of the Church: a community of active faith where its presence influences, in organic and pervasive ways, the free corporate decisions of society. In this potential role Helmick suggests hope for the Church as a resource for reconciliation, not division and violence, in conflict.
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