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Taipei Interfaith Leaders Advocate Humanitarian Approach to Conflict 



Taipei, Taiwan – Religious leaders from 21 groups joined with representatives of 22 NGOs for a seminar to mark the start of U.N. World Interfaith Harmony Week in Taipei. The event, sponsored by UPF-Taiwan, was held on January 31, 2024, and focused on Pathways to Peace in the Middle East. Around 140 people took part.

 

The seminar commenced with a speech and call to action from UPF-Taiwan Chairman Mr. Tang Yen-po. Chairman Mr. Zheng Tai-xiang of the Taipei Mosque Foundation then spoke, saying that the current conflict in the Gaza Strip is not a religious issue, and the religious community does not need to take sides. Mr. Zheng, who served as ambassador to Turkey, stressed the value of mutual tolerance within Taiwan's religious community, which he believed could serve as a model for the world. He urged religious communities to cherish this grace and not to be used as scapegoats for political struggles.

 

Assistant Imam Zheng Ping of the Taipei Mosque also pointed out that historically, conflicts triggered primarily by religion accounted for only 7% of all wars. The recent massacre in Gaza demonstrates that individuals of any faith may face violence, he said. Therefore, he emphasized the importance of unity in advocating for the oppressed, regardless of their religious beliefs.


Mr. Min Tai-hsi, President of FFWPU-Taiwan, stated that the founders of UPF and FFWPU, the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his wife Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, advocated throughout their lives for interreligious dialogue, aiming to foster mutual understanding of the spiritual traditions and values inherent in each religion to bridge the gaps between them.


Father Lin Chih-ting, representing the Religious Dialogue and Cooperation Committee of the Taiwan Regional Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church and also the Religious and Peace Promotion Association, proposed a new interpretation: "We are all centers within the Infinite. You are a center, and I am also a center." This philosophy opens up infinite possibilities for religious integration, he said, bringing about unity and addressing the longstanding debate over which sect is at the center.


Mr. Guangzhong Hu, head of the Tzu Chi Foundation in Istanbul, Turkey, speaking remotely via live broadcast, explained that religious groups can play an important role in the face of conflict. He shared that from 2014 to 2023, Tzu Chi had assisted a total of 4.31 million individuals from Turkey and Syria. They established elementary and middle schools in refugee camps, providing educational opportunities for children who would otherwise be illiterate, and likely engaged in child labor. This initiative aimed to uplift them and nurture their potential to pursue higher education. Through its charitable efforts rooted in religious compassion, Mr. Hu explained, Tzu Chi seeks to transform the destinies of children affected by conflict.


UPF-Taiwan Chairman Mr. Chen Tuohuan introduced Rev. Sun Myung Moon's plan for revitalizing the United Nations, which would involve the creation of a body of religious representatives to serve in a separate chamber, alongside current political leaders. He called on the religious community and NGOs to unite and participate in relevant U.N. meetings, guiding the organization with the spirit of love to break through the barriers of national interest and help resolve international conflicts.


Other participants included representatives from the World Headquarters of the I-Kuan Tao Association, the Church of Scientology, the Wei Xin Sheng Jiao, the Chinese Yu Line Xuanmen True Sect, the Li-ism General Office, and the Guangyan Dizang Buddhist Association.


Participants shared the wisdom of their respective religions and engaged in in-depth discussions on how to strengthen cooperation between different religions to reach consensus. There was lively exchange among the religious leaders present, who expressed great enthusiasm for the topics discussed during the seminar.



 

By Gloria Chi, Secretary General, UPF-Taiwan January 31, 2024

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