Speak out: An international call for dialogue and peace-A A +A
Friday, March 12, 2010
WE OF the Inter-Faith Dialogue Forum (IFDF) Metro Manila, members of different religions, especially Muslims and Christians, who are involved in different initiatives, movements and programs of dialogue and peace in Metro Manila and other parts of the Philippines, welcome the Special Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Ministerial meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development in Manila on March 16-18, 2010.
This gathering is a sign of hope for the world and for us in the Philippines. It is an acknowledgement of the importance of interfaith dialogue for the future peace and development in the world. It is a great occasion to find in the faith experience of different faith groups the right direction to work together for the common good.
We believe that the NAM meeting in Manila has to be vigilant to overcome the temptation by some sectors of society in many countries that use religions and faiths as a new form of “colonization” in the world, where the “alignment” and association with a specific religion in these areas of the world may cause the spread of fear and perpetuate forms of violence.
Inter-Faith Dialogue is dedicated to exploring possibilities of peace and development based on the concept of love of God and love of neighbor. This element of love is well expressed in the recent open letter to the Christian leaders of the world from 138 respected Muslim scholars of 42 countries and reaffirms that dialogue is a form of love that needs to be rediscovered not only by Muslims and Christians but also by all religions. We believe that the NAM meeting is a great occasion to develop this concept and foundation for peace and development.
We believe that inter-faith dialogue is basically a spiritual experience based on the faith of all of us who claim to belong to a specific religion and it is a concept valid also for those who claim not to belong to any religion, but move with sincere desire to work for the common good. Thus, there is no “secular” concept of INTER-FAITH DIALOGUE. A real inter-faith dialogue starts from a genuine understanding of faith expressed in life in a form of spirituality or style of life consistent with the faith that one believes in.
Guided by this understanding of Inter-Faith Dialogue, we the members of IFDF have agreed to share with you some of the basic concerns that we hope the NAM meeting will take into consideration and find the proper channel to implement:
1. The NAM countries are urged to secure freedom of religion, convinced that each culture can benefit from any expression of religion that offers a sincere contribution for the common good in society. In this connection the NAM countries have to be vigilant against any form of violence and “imposition” of religious practices and culture elements that are against the common principles of Human Rights.
2. The NAM countries are invited to give special attention to education on Inter-Faith Dialogue as an important element for peace and development, encouraging different sectors of society to harmonize theory and praxis of inter-faith dialogue based on sincerity, sensitivity and solidarity.
3. The NAM countries know the importance of media and we hope that the media will project positive messages that encourage inter-faith dialogue in a way that will give proper space to all, especially those who work for better relations between majority and minority faith groups present in the different NAM countries.
4. The NAM countries are invited to deeply evaluate the many types of violence arising from different conflicts and study new approaches on non-violence in order to preserve just peace in their countries, so that a government does not pursue peace only with “liberation fronts” or other groups who claim their rights with violence but also give attention to civil society, encouraging them to express their claims with peaceful means.
5. The NAM countries are invited to develop other peaceful and creative pro-active approaches, giving proper attention to the voice of the poor and the indigenous people who claim their ancestral lands; respect for minority; and vigilance over some politicians and other sectors whose vision of life is very far from the real meaning of the inter-faith dialogue for peace and development.
We know that the world situation is tested with many issues often bigger than the power of any one country to solve, issues like global warming and other world issues difficult to find solutions for. But we believe that we can find a way to the solution and the NAM meeting is part of this positive effort that we hope will help many to overcome fear and division. This is possible if we deepen the importance of inter-faith dialogue, free from vested interest, but guided by a proper understanding of the centrality of God in the world and our mission to help each other in our common desire to work together for peace and development.
On behalf of the Interfaith Dialogue Forum-Manila (IFDF-Manila),
Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME