Asian Religious Leaders Urge Religions To Teach Peace
an article by Union of Asian Catholic News
Religious leaders from 25 countries in Asia and around the Pacific Ocean ended their five-day assembly here in Manila by outlining concerns related to peace in the region, and actions they could pursue in their countries.
The five-page declaration approved by the seventh assembly of the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP) encourages members to visit places hit by war and disaster, and to assist in reconciliation efforts.
It suggests national conferences establish therapeutic centers and create other strategies to help in healing survivors of war, torture, disaster and other traumatic events.
The assembly proposed a United Nations Decade of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation and urged members of the regional conference to call on their governments to support the initiative at the U.N. General Assembly.
ACRP, founded in Singapore in 1976, seeks understanding among followers of various religions in Asia, and promotes peace, justice and human dignity through cooperation. It is the regional affiliate of the World Conference of Religions for Peace and held assemblies every five years from its establishment through 2006.
Of about 400 participants in the Oct. 17-21 assembly, 124 were official delegates of principal religious communities in Asia including Buddhists, Christians, Confucianists, Hindus, Jewish, Muslims and Shintoists. The assembly on the theme "Peacemaking in Asia" included sessions at both the Manila Hotel and the pontifical University of Santo Tomas.
Workshops and discussions addressed a range of issues such as violence, the widening rich-poor gap, hunger, gender discrimination, migrant labor and displacement. They also touched on religious and ethnic conflicts, terrorism, environmental abuse, globalization and the continuing danger of nuclear weapons to the region. ACRP secretary-general Sunggon Kim, in his address to the assembly, said these issues remain a concern and of great importance to religious leaders and movements. But Asia's many faiths and spiritual traditions can offer answers, he added.
National conferences from Cambodia and Iran joined as new members in the assembly, which also involved participants from Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, North and South Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
The final declaration also urges members to undertake and support peace education in schools and religious formation institutions, and among women. It encourages members to call on their respective governments to sign the global treaty against cluster bombs and to further support nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament efforts toward a nuclear-weapon-free world by 2020.
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This report was posted on October 24, 2008.
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