Today more than ever, religious leaders, academics and followers of religions together, in a world afflicted by conflicts, terrorism and increasingly threatening winds of war, are called to “build bridges” and “to join hands with all people of good will to contribute to peace-building in our world today and for tomorrow.” The joint Declaration released today (May 15) in Rome by Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains and Sikhs at the end of a conference on “Dharma and Logos. Dialogue and collaboration in a complex era”, is an appeal for world peace.
The first conference of this kind in Italy is the result of several preparatory meetings with the participation of members of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Italian Buddhist Union, the Sikhi Sewa Society, the London-based Centre for Jaina Studies, and the National Office for Ecumenism and Dialogue of the Italian Bishops’ Conference.
A ceremony marked by the traditional lighting of the lamp, symbolizing friendship and fraternity, opened the meeting.
“In un a world plagued by conflicts and winds of war, religious leaders are expected to be bridges of dialogue, to be creative mediators and interlocutors of harmony and peace who cherish and promote the culture of encounter, embracing and respecting humanity, especially the poor and the disadvantaged in our societies” said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, in a message to participants read by the Secretary of the Vatican dicastery Msgr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot.
200 participants. Many monks wearing their traditional religious and monastic habits highlighted a multicoloured Italy, open to dialogue and encounter. “The purpose of the meeting – Fr Cristiano Bettega, Director of the CEI Office, told SIR – is to bring together Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Sikh to identify our common grounds and mutually enriching elements in order to serve
as a academy of dialogue.”
The religious traditions that originate in the far East are present throughout our Country thanks to a growing community, mostly residing in the Central and Northern regions. Immigrants form a large part of this deeply-rooted population. “Their desire is to be present, to be acknowledged. They want Italians to recognize their presence. They don’t consider themselves guests but an integral part of our Country, which they are in all respects. These people don’t stay on the sidelines, they want to be involved.”
“An intense, new day of dialogue with the Orient” said Svamini Hamsananda Ghiri, vice-President of the Italian Hindu Union, highlighted the “many colours of dialogue. The Dalai Lama used to say that religions are sisters to each another. Coming together in a spirit of friendship and respect testifies to the fact that, despite our diversity, in our complex epoch we can and must work together for justice and peace, and that dialogue and mutual understanding are possible.”
“Our world is afflicted by major challenges”, wrote the religious leaders in the joint Declaration. “We believe that the spiritual treasures of our religious traditions, along with shared human solidarity, will help us overcome the ordeals of our times.” The meeting in Rome “has greatly contributed to the advancement of mutual respect, understanding and cooperation.” “The way is already mapped out. Now the commitment is to continue the mutual dialogue and the joint cooperation, “in the spirit of love and truth, while remaining firmly rooted in our respective religious traditions so as to effectively face the challenges of our times and build a culture of encounter and dialogue.”