Interfaith News Roundup
September Was a Month of Celebrations and Blessings
On September 21 the world celebrated the UN International Day of Peace at hundreds of sites circling the globe. The theme this year was “The Sustainable Development Goals: Building Blocks for Peace.” On that same day, Pope Francis hosted leaders from the world’s religions to gather in prayer in Assisi on the thirtieth anniversary of the first such interfaith spiritual gathering, in 1986. Reuters reports that on September 21 “The head of the Roman Catholic Church closed a three-day meeting where about 500 representatives of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and other faiths discussed how their members could better promote peace and reconciliation.”
In a final appeal from Assisi, which key representatives signed and gave to children from around the world, they vowed “to oppose every form of violence and abuse of religion which seeks to justify war and terrorism … No to war! May the anguished cry of the many innocents not go unheeded. Let us urge leaders of nations to defuse the causes of war: the lust for power and money, the greed of arms’ dealers, personal interests and vendettas for past wrongs.”
Weeks earlier the Vatican hosted an international conference on interfaith dialogue, where Pope Francis declared that “The world looks constantly to us, believers, to see what our attitude is towards the common house and to human rights.” He went on to challenge the conference: “The world also asks us to cooperate among ourselves and with men and women of good will who profess no religion, in order to give effective answers to the many scourges of our world,” including the scourges of war and hunger, abject poverty, ecological crises, violence, corruption and moral degradation, the crisis of the family, the economy, “and above all,” he said, “the lack of hope.”
Also in September, The Jewish Press announced that “Over 20 religious leaders from east Asia arrived in Israel Monday for a four-day summit in Jerusalem. Participants came from countries such as China, South Korea, India, and Japan, representing spiritual traditions of Taoism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Jainism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. Throughout the upcoming week, they will come face to face with Arab and Israeli religious leaders of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.” Something is taking off, it seems! East and West. Abrahamic and Dharmic.
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