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Peace Education

UPF Chairman Visits UPF Chapters in Europe

London, UK - UPF Chairman, Rev. Hyung Jin Moon, has just completed a quick tour of Europe in August 2010 visiting UPF volunteers, Ambassadors for Peace, and members of the Unification faith community in Italy, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The tour began with a visit to the Rome and the Vatican on August 24-25 immediately following the conclusion of the Middle East Peace Initiative program in Jerusalem, and ended August 31 with a public meeting in the House of Commons in London.

The importance of better harmony and cooperation among believers of all faiths is a central thrust of UPF’s work around the world, and during the tour the UPF Chairman and his delegation, which included UPF President Dr. Thomas Walsh and Secretary General Taj Hamad, made a special point of visiting locations with a strong ties to Europe’s religious heritage.

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In Italy, they visited St. Peter’s in Rome, and followed the tradition of penitents ascending the Scala Santa, or “Holy Staircase” brought from Jerusalem to Rome, on their knees. “We cannot complain or stop because of pain,” he commented at the top of the climb. “If we don’t focus on the internal meaning, our body becomes the subject and we cannot continue. This is a good training for mind and body unity and a test of the strength of our faith.”

In Germany, the group visited the Wartburg Castle, where Martin Luther was held in protective custody from May 1521 to March 1522 by his friend and benefactor Frederick the Wise, following Luther’s excommunication by Pope Leo X. While safe in the castle, Luther translated the New Testament into German in just ten weeks.

Of course, Europe also has a darker history of religious persecution, perhaps none worse than the treatment of the Jews under the Nazi regime, and the tour group also visited the Buchenwald concentration camp, where more than 56,000 died at the hands of the SS.

Hyung Jin and his wife, Yeon Ah Moon, also made an unscheduled trip to France to visit the families of a young man recently killed in a bus accident and a young woman still hospitalized from the same incident. He spoke with feeling on the importance of parents taking time with each of their children, no matter how busy they are. “The moments a child will remember the most are the moments that he or she spent personally with his or her parents,” he said. Transformation of society is not just a matter of institutional change, but of change in the human heart.

On the final day of the tour, Hyung Jin Moon spoke at an event in the House of Commons in the British Parliament, where he encouraged the gathered Ambassadors for Peace to make every effort to secure formal British support for UPF’s proposed interreligious council at the United Nations. During August, UPF chapters throughout the world held similar consultations, with notable contributions coming from Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, Sierra Leone, and Switzerland.

Read reports of visits to Italy, France, Germany, and the UK.

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