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Interfaith Programs

Montreal Interfaith Forum: Action Steps towards an Interreligious Council

Montreal, Canada - “Canada should take a leading role in the establishment of an interreligious council at the United Nations,” declared Universal Peace Federation Director of Communications and Education, Dr. Michael Balcomb as he shared his thoughts with Ambassadors for Peace in Montreal on April 21, 2010.

Dr. Balcomb was invited to address the UPF monthly meeting on the theme, “Action Steps toward Establishing an Interreligious Council at the United Nations.” In attendance were clergy of several denominations as well as community leaders and peace activists. Balcomb, who is also Assistant Secretary General of UPF International, spoke frankly and stated unequivocally that there remains much work to be done to bring to fruition the visionary idea of the founder, Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who on August 18, 2000 announced, at the United Nations in New York, his hope for the creation of an interreligious council that would have an advisory role to the existing Security Council and member states on navigating the tricky and often treacherous religious dimension of conflicts under UN management.

The meeting, of some 30 Ambassadors for Peace, began with each participant introducing themselves. Participants learned about the vast network of Ambassadors for Peace internationally, when Father Tibu Fernandez, a Roman Catholic priest, who recently returned from Benin shared about his impromptu meetings with fellow UPF Ambassadors for Peace during his visit to West Africa.

Dr. Balcomb then proceeded to illustrate the vast array of UPF activities worldwide in a multitude of strategic areas. Recent developments of UPF’s collaboration with the African Union were brought to the attention of the participants and an upcoming event in New York celebrating Africa Day, May 25.

According to Dr. Balcomb, some progress has been made during the past decade; however, it is increasingly clear that the most important first step is to produce a manifesto for an interreligious council with clear action steps for the worldwide network of Ambassadors for Peace. Such a charter would articulate the scope and direction of a council at the UN, i.e., how it would function, how it would be funded and more.

Canada’s unique position as a country with a strong legal tradition and populated with people from every country imaginable could play a major role in assembling a team to produce a blueprint for an interreligious council as well as promoting the idea through its vast links to the world community.

For a collection of documents and essays about the proposal for an interreligious council, click here. The PowerPoint presentation is available in English and French.

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