Interfaith Peacebuilding


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Interfaith Programs

Sao Paulo Interfaith Forum: Religion and World Peace

Sao Paulo, Brazil - The UNILUX interfaith group has been organizing interfaith dialogues since 2002 and recently made a partnership with the Universal Peace Federation and the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. Their seventeenth interfaith forum took place at the Unification Temple in Sao Paulo on Nov. 27, 2011 on the theme Religion and World Peace.

Mr. Sidnei Carvalho, co-founder of UNILUX and a universalist, psychograph, and TV speaker, coordinated the event. He greeted the audience and invited the Unification Choir, directed by Mr. Lukota, to sing the opening song.

Sheikh Jihad Hassan Hammadesh, president of the Council of Ethics for the National Union of the Islamic Organizations in Brazil and the World Association of Muslim Youth in Latin America, gave the first presentation, representing the Islamic tradition.

Mr, Alexandre Cumino, director of the newspaper “Umbanda Sagrada,” professor of Umbanda theology and director of the Spiritualist and Umbandista Association in the State of Sao Paulo, spoke about the Umbanda tradition, a religion that started in Brazil 103 years ago.

After a short break, the gypsy group “Oracle do Sol’’ performed beautiful and colorful dances.

Mr. Adão Nonato de Oliveira, co-founder of the UNILUX and a lecturer, psychologist, therapist, radio and TV speaker, spoke about the Spiritism tradition, a religion that spread in Brazil based on the teaching of Allan Kardec, or Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail, who was originally from France.

For lunch, a vegetarian meal was prepared and served by the Hare Krishna group.

Mr. Guilherme Botelho, Jr., a theologian, professor of church history and liturgy, and member of the Afro descendants pastorate of the Sao Paulo Archdiocese, talked about the Roman Catholic tradition.

Rabbi Michel Schlesinger, a member of the Board of the Paulista Israelite Congregation, professor of Bar Mitzvah, and the first Brazilian rabbi to graduate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, spoke about Judaism.

Pastor. Samuel Gomes de Lima, president of the Brazilian Association for Religious Freedom and Citizenship, professor, and pastor of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, talked about Protestantism.

During the afternoon break the participants were invited by Mrs. Shellah Avellar, a metaphysical artist, to go to the back of the hall to put some paint on a canvas with their finger. She said taht she would finish the painting according instructions received from the spirit world and write down the words of a spirit messenger.

After the break, Indian classical dancers came onto the stage and created a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere.

Mr. Sidnei invited additional religious leaders to come up on the stage for a forum: Mr. More Ventura representing Judaism; Mrs. Monica from the Sukyo Maharikari; Mr. Juberli Varela, President of the Umbanda Organization of the State of Sao Paulo; Mr. Simao Ferabolli, president of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in Brazil representing Unificationism; Bishop Marcelo Resende from the Liberal Catholic Church; Father Ney Oliveira from the Vetero Catholic Church; Mahesvara Caithanya from the Hare Krishna Movement, representing Hinduism; Professor Valdemar Setzer from Anthroposophy; Mr. Luis Gomes from the Seicho No Ie; Mr. Kazuya Nagashima from the Risho Kossei Kai and his interpreter, representing Buddhism; and Sheik Armando representing Islam.

They were joined by previous speakers: Mr. Guilherme Botelho, Pastor Samuel Lima, Mr. Adao Nonato, and Professor Alexandre Cuminoa.

As moderator, Mr. Sidnei explained that he would accept only written questions and that he would select only the topics that advance interreligious harmony and avoid controversial or critical question that may offend a religious representative. The first question that many first-time guests asked was about the meaning of the large golden Unification symbol on the wall. That question was directed to Mr. Ferabolli, who gave a brief explanation based on the Divine Principle.

The next questions were directed to everyone: What will happen in 2012? What is the relation between sin and violence? What is relation between the family and peace?

Each representative gave his view on the topics, presenting diverse insights that were mutually enriching and interesting. The speakers reported being inspired at learning valuable content from each other. Mr. Ferabolli commented: "It was the best seminar on religions that I ever participated in! The atmosphere was very good!"

Many participants felt delighted that they could learn about each other's religions from eminent speakers all in one place. They could feel the barriers and preconceptions breaking down and the possibility of harmony between all religions.

Mrs. Shellah Avellar showed the collaborative painting and read the message that she received from Ramatys, a member of the Universal Brotherhood in the spirit world: “Think of heroes, leaders, and warriors abandoning their weapons and artifacts and running towards their opponents with a single thought: LOVE and PEACE!" Mr. More Ventura, a representative of Judaism, was presented with the painting.

To conclude, Mr. Sidnei asked everyone to embrace five persons before leaving as a gesture of unity and love among people of all religions.

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