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Interfaith Programs

Planting an Olive Tree in Argentina 'For Life and Peace'

Spanish

Buenos Aires, Argentina - “For life and peace” was the motto by which the representatives of organizations from different areas planted an olive tree on May 26, 2014 at Rodríguez Peña Park in Buenos Aires, in front of the Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic. The occasion was Pope Francis' journey to the Middle East. Representatives of NGOs and the government reaffirmed these values as a collective commitment by cooperating and throwing dirt on the plant, which was later watered by leaders from spiritual traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity (Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical).

The invocations and brief reflections were made by Swami Pareshananda (Spiritual Home Ramakrishna), Pastor Noemí Paredes (Pastoral Evangelical Ministry from Tigre), the Teacher María Florencia Kais (Meditation Center Kadampa of Argentina), Monsignor Kissag Mouradian (Apostolic Orthodox Church from Armenia), Rbabi Damián Karo (Israeli Congregation of Argentina), Sheikh Abdel Nabi Al Hafnawy (Mosque Al-Ahmad), Monsignor Tarasios (Greek Orthodox Church of Argentina) and the Presbyter Fernando Giannetti (Roman Catholic Church), who offered prayer and watered the tree, even if they arrived at the end of the event because of other activities.

“Building peace is difficult, but living without peace is torture,” said Claudio Avruj, undersecretary of Human Rights and Cultural Pluralism (CABA), while remembering a phrase from the Pope during his pilgrimage around the Holy Land, at the 50th anniversary of the historical embrace between Pope Paul VI and Athenagoras I. This was something that overcame almost a millennium of excommunication and struggle. Afterwards, other people spoke and showed gratitude for joining this event, such as Juan Sarrafián, president of the Argentinean Federation of Collectivities (FAC), and Horacio Daboul, president of the Arab Cultural and Social Association League, who were the drivers of the initiative along with Miguel Werner, secretary general of UPF-Argentina, who was the master of ceremonies.

Other participants were Julio Croci, general director of Collectivities (CABA); National Deputy Alberto Asseff; Julio Schlosser and Víctor Garelik, president and CEO of the DAIA; Abdo Baradei and Adnan Kassab, from the Islamic Center of Argentina; Juan Carlos Rey, governor of Rotary International District 4890; Linda Dorissa, from the Palestinian Embassy; Raúl Amato, coordinator of Round of Peace 2014; Diego Weck, from CGP4; Graciela Curuchelar, president of Through Inclusive and Peaceful Processes; ZulmaPrina, América Madre – Writers for peace; Andrea Vega, director of the Chacras Foundation of Buenos Aires; Gioconda Albesi, from the Rotary Club of Parque Patricios; and the Center of Management and Participation of Comuna 2 (CGP 2 – Recoleta), being the host that created this initiative, represented by Karen Lozzia, Juan Fornari and Soledad Rodríguez, who sang “Haz de mí un instrumento de paz,” while holding her baby.

Representatives from other sponsoring organizations also came during this beautiful and shining day. Some of them were part of the olive tree planting: Collectivities Forum from Buenos Aires, Peace Council of Argentina (Cpaz), FOPAZ Association, United Nations Youth Associations in Argentina, AELAC–Association of Educators from Latin America and the Caribbean, Rotary Club of Parque Patricios, “Amigos” Association from the Museum of the Bernasconi Institute, El Faro del Sur, Chamber of Commerce from Parque de los Patricios, INCONTRO Network of Italian-Argentinean Professionals, Association Parque Las Heras Palermo and the Ballet Huellas del Folklore.

“Honor life” was the song performed by the artist Alicia Haddad at the end of the meeting, at this sixth annual Round of Peace that this year had as a motto: “Day of social peace,” highlighting promising signs of coexistence but also of conflicts and violence. A commitment aligned with the calling “for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and the world,” which will help stop the war in this conflicted region, although building peace still requires more daily efforts and investment.

Translation: Yamila Gómez

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