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World Interfaith Harmony Week Observed at a Forum in Argentina

Spanish

Buenos Aires, Argentina - "Honoring Life and the Commitment to Brotherhood and Peace" was the theme of UPF-Argentina's Feb. 5, 2015, forum in observance of World Interfaith Harmony Week.  

The highlight of the meeting was the prayers and the reflections offered by representatives of different faith traditions: Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This was a good opportunity to reaffirm fellowship, providing light and hope in these critical and difficult times.

Marité Herrera, a member of Argentina’s Peace Council, read aloud a statement about the background of World Interfaith Harmony Week, which was established in 2010 by the United Nations in order to promote religions’ central value in conflict resolution and in building a culture of peace.

The audience was shown a video with photos of the previous year’s World Interfaith Harmony Week commemoration, which had as its motto “For Peace in Syria, in the Middle East, and in the World” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYHBOCCMEWA).

After a minute of silence for all victims of violence, a candle was lit as a symbol of divine presence and common identity. The richness of diversity was represented by 12 cups with water surrounding a large bowl. Each representative of a different religion took one cup and poured the water into the common bowl before offering a prayer. Water symbolizes life, which is threatened by crisis and conflicts; light symbolizes illuminating the confusing present and walking together in fraternity.

The representatives of religion were called in pairs, as another symbol of encounter. The procedure started with one of the most ancient traditions and a recent one, as a sign of humility: God manifested in all ages and cultures millennia ago, and He still does that nowadays. The main section of the event was initiated by the representative of Hinduism, Norma Terzo from the Spiritual Home Ramakrishna; and Brother Guillermo Spannaus from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

They were followed by Sheikh Abdel Nabi Al Hafnawy from the Al-Ahmad Mosque; and Rabbi Damián Karo from the Freedom Temple. The ceremony finished with the representatives of Christianity: Pastor Carlos Laluf-Edith Paredes from the Christ Ambassadors Evangelical Church; Apostle Rubén Contreras from the Christian Apostolic and Prophetic Ministry; Pastor David Calvo from the United Evangelical Lutheran Church; and Friar Jorge Bender, guardian of the Monastery of St. Francis of Assisi.

The reflections and prayers were well received by the participants. The rest of the 12 water cups were poured into the common container by believers from the audience, who spontaneously came forward and also expressed their thoughts about the meeting. At the end, the representatives of the different religions were invited to greet each other as another sign of a renewed commitment. Young people from the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification-Argentina closed the event by singing the songs “He de Serte Fiel” (“I Shall Be Faithful to You”) and “Mundo de Paz” (“World Peace”).

María Inés Alegnani, president of the Buenos Aires branch of the Association of Latin American and Caribbean Educators (AELAC), said, “In times of conflict between nations and general violence, this space for interreligious dialogue and cooperation helps raise awareness to try and seek agreements in different places.”

At the end, the participants received copies of the statements written by UPF-France and UPF-Argentina in reaction to the January 2015 terrorist attacks on Paris, as well as copy of As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen, the autobiography of UPF Founder Dr. Sun Myung Moon.

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