CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Religious Voices in Support of an Interfaith Council at the UN
Written by UPF International
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Excerpts of statements made by religious leaders and scholars in support of a proposed interreligious council at the United Nations. Click on link for full text of statements.
Interreligious Cooperation for Peace
Marcus Braybrooke, President, World Congress of Faiths, United Kingdom
At the time that the interfaith movement turned its attention to world problems, a growing number of politicians, economists, and others have become ready to hear the voices of faith, recognizing, for example, with the rise of religious extremism, that religion is the missing dimension of statecraft. The World Economic Forum at Davos now invites religious leaders to participate. The same is true of the World Social Forum, and Transparency International has included a religious panel. There is growing discussion of business ethics and the moral dimension of globalization. More
Religion as a Motivating Force in the Pursuit of Peace
Lilian M. Curaming, Franciscans Missionaries of Mary, the Philippines
Religious traditions have the resources needed to overcome fragmentation and to promote mutual friendship and respect among peoples. A genuine religious belief is an inexhaustible wellspring of mutual respect and harmony among peoples. In a millennium marked by multiplicity of religions and cultures, all religions are called to provide a common and complementary moral and religious foundation for this struggle (towards liberation and wholeness), and be forces for growth and communion rather than sources of alienation and conflict. Religions have a prophetic role in public life. More
Homes for the Human Spirit: Religions, the United Nations and the Global Ethic
Martin Forward, Helena Wackerlin Professor of Religious Studies, Aurora University, Illinois, USA
The Global Ethic is a brave and admirable attempt to harness the resources of the world’s religions to positive and universal ends. Yet religions can’t just be applied like balm for the soul in order to produce desirable ends like peace and justice. They mustn’t simply admire their theoretical resources. They have to reform themselves in the contemporary world, if they’re truly to be homes for the human spirit. They must learn from each other, and explore each other’s deepest resources for faithful adaptation to the context of our global village. More
Potential Role of an Interreligious Council
Dr. Eliezer Glaubach, former City Councilman, Jerusalem
We believe that all human beings are "one family under God" and are created in God’s image; thus prayer for the wellbeing of all nations would be an important task of such a council. Prayers that underscore the enhancement of peace, harmony and happiness may inspire people to respect each individual and nation according to their traditions. In tumultuous times, nations can easily get caught up in their day-topday events. Thus such a council could offer vision and direction, but always with utmost caution, care, and sensitivity. More
Existing Institutions Are Inadequate
Nedzad Grabus, Faculty of Islamic Studies in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Many of us are thinking about how to respond to many interreligious initiatives that are taking place. There is a growing push for action in this area, and we are holding in depth conversation on this subject. National interreligious councils could be founded to show the way and lend support to the idea of establishing an interreligious council at the UN. Why is it so important to promote and support this proposal? Many of us have been witnesses to antireligious movements in society, especially under communist regimes. Even today we have many problems with that mentality. An interreligious council will not discuss theological problems but will strongly support cultural dialogue, peaceful coexistence, and mutual understanding. The world cannot exist without dialogue and interreligious cooperation. More
Resolving Religious Flash-Points Without Violence
Dr. Frank Kaufmann, Director, Inter-Religious Federation for World Peace
The United Nations now needs to quickly decide how to incorporate serious, carefully structured religious instruments into its diplomatic mission and organization. So does the United States, and the two must work hand in hand. I hold that the current problems are solvable. I am not pessimistic in any way about the current world situation. And I believe that the United States and the United Nations are natural partners in the care for the world. Religions and religious leaders must step up to the plate and be far more exemplary, far more concerned for the world, less devious and political in their dealings, less parochial and must establish their role with dignity in cooperation with visionaries and global minded people like United Nations and United States political leaders. More
Use the Wisdom of the World's Religious Leaders
Dr. Raheem Khan, Vice President, British Muslim Society; Consultant Cardiac Surgeon (Retired), United Kingdom
“Peace councils” have been established in almost every country; Ambassadors for Peace will be responsible for setting up and running these councils at local, regional and national levels. Their basic function will be to maintain peace by having representatives of different communities meet together regularly and cooperate at all levels. In a wise move that will utilize the wisdom, experience and influence of the world’s religious leaders, the setting up of an International Peace Council as an “upper house” to the United Nations will stand at the apex of this worldwide network of peacemakers, and is a proposal that I stand behind 100 percent.
Marshaling Public Opinion for an Interreligious Council
Sayyed Mohammed Musawi, President, World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League, United Kingdom
We and many of our colleagues share the idea that the attachment of human beings to their religion and faith is a very clear reality. People feel comfortable and even glad following religious guidance to improve their lives and societies. So why not promote people’s participation in implementing the United Nations' noble aims by taking advantage of the religious attachments of people? It will be then much easier to fight illiteracy, disease, and crime. Such a council can also promote communal understanding and peace and harmony by encouraging programs for interfaith and interreligious information and education. Many conflicts can be resolved peacefully if the wisdom of religion is being properly utilized. More
Bringing the Human Family Closer
Imam Dr. Abduljalil Sajid, The Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony, UK
The purpose of an interreligious council is to bring the human family closer, to make modern people more human. I believe that this council should be a council for humanity and its purpose should be exclusively to promote humanitarian causes, causes that are common to all religions and should be common to all human beings, whether they are religious or not. I feel that it is of very great importance that an interreligious council is perceived as and proves to be a counterbalancing force of extremism, bigotry. and exclusivity. Today in many parts of the world religion is being used as an excuse for violence and intolerance. I think that the concept of council will gain very much morally and politically if it is presented as a body intended to end religious extremism. Sometimes a committee with a powerful idea can have much greater impact than the whole General Assembly. We need to build a consensus around this noble idea of making humanity more human—an idea that is not intended to be made into a tool either of extremists or of non-extremists. More
Religion Alone Can Sow the Seeds of Trust
Junsei Terasawa, Buddhist Monk, Nipponzan Myohoji in Russia, Ukraine and Central Asia
The cause of religion should go beyond the league of states. States today cannot deal with the dimension of human character that brings conflict to the world. Religion alone can sow the seeds of trust, respect, and unity instead of suspicion, doubt, and fear. The fundamental theme of all religious teachings is supremacy and sanctity of life above any other value or institution or state. Religion should uphold the principle that all life is sacred, and the principle that all persons have a right to live in peace should be the universal ethic. Religions must join together in order to choose the only possible future for mankind: That we all live together in peace. More
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Sankhu, Nepal—Over 1,300 people participated in an Interfaith Peace Blessing that took place in the village of Sankhu, located just outside of Kathmandu, on November 19.
Abuja, Nigeria—UPF-Nigeria will observe World Interfaith Harmony Week with a special conference on interreligious peace education.
Washington, D.C., United States—More than 200 leaders from 54 nations attended an International Leadership Conference (ILC) which featured the launch of a parliamen- tarians’ peacebuilding association known as the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP).