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UPF Partner Hosts Interfaith Conference: Coalition of Faith-Based Organizations (CFBO)


Tbilisi, Georgia—The president of the Coalition of Faith-Based Organizations in Central Europe gave the keynote address at a two-day international conference.


The conference, “Eternal Values and the Constantly Changing World,” was held February 16 and 17, 2023, at the Radisson Iveria hotel in Tbilisi, Georgia.


The event was held in honor of the 90th birthday of Georgian Patriarch Ilia II and his now 45 years as spiritual leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church. It was organized by the Georgian National Academy of Sciences and the International Centre for Christian Studies at the Orthodox Church of Georgia.


The president of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Giorgi Kvesitadze, opened the symposium and welcomed the guests.


The keynote address, “Eternal Values in Hostile Cultures,” was given by Professor Dr. Elmar Kuhn. In addition to being the secretary general of the NGO Christians in Need, Dr. Kuhn is the president of the Coalition of Faith-Based Organizations in Central Europe (https://coalitionfbo.eu).


UPF International Chair Dr. Thomas G. Walsh is also the co-chair of the Coalition of Faith-Based Organizations.


In his speech, Dr. Kuhn spoke of his experiences at Christians in Need, ranging from famine revolts due to lack of grain supplies to Egypt (and many other African countries) to persecution, expulsion and murder of believers in about 80 percent of all countries on earth—according to the renowned Pew Institute (Pew Research Center, 2019 Sept. 30).


“We live in a tumultuous world and dark times!” Dr. Kuhn stated. “It is our mandate (as religions) to participate in shaping society, to contribute to interfaith understanding and to reject anti-life positions, including in the political sphere.”


The best way to do this, he said, is through education, which must be based on values and communicated in a credible manner.


Ceremonial Reception at the End of the Symposium Confirms the Interreligious Mission


In the course of the February 18 ceremony, Professor Dr. Roin Metreveli, vice president of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences, gave a presentation on the life and work of Patriarch Ilia II. He referred to Dr. Kuhn’s keynote address, saying, “Everybody listened to Professor Kuhn’s lecture and paid attention to this significant speech.”


The director of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Science, Professor Dr. Eynulla Madatli, emphasized the importance of interreligious dialogue, especially in the midst of an increasingly secularized global society. Dr. Kuhn established intensive relations with Dr. Madatli, including the question of the humanitarian catastrophe in Nagorno-Karabakh, a conversation that was completely denied by the Embassy of Azerbaijan to Austria on February 8 during a discussion in Vienna.


Commitment to Interreligious Dialogue


All in all, the international conference with participants from all over the world has become an interreligious commitment to the preservation of eternal values even in secular society and to fruitful dialogue with all cultures. How this dialogue can be implemented and secured between religions, the next steps must show.


Dr. Kuhn said: “In the projects of Christians in Need, however, we are already having very good experiences with interreligious education projects. This always strengthens respect and the positive perception of Christian minorities by the respective majority religion. There was no way around dialogue and education.”



By Professor Dr. Elmar Kuhn, president of the Coalition of Faith-Based Organizations in Central Europe
Friday, February 17, 2023

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