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Posted by Dexter Matilla - - 0 comments

By Dexter R. Matilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:17:00 10/13/2008

MANILA, Philippines - Religion is as diverse as the individual cultures of every nation in the world. Though there may be differences in each nation’s traditions and beliefs, the universal message of peace and love is the same, no matter what the language is.

With this ideal in mind, the Asian Conference on Religions for Peace (ACRP) will be held in Manila for the first time with the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines as hosts.

To be held Oct. 17-21, the conference will have the world’s top religious leaders convening in UST and the Manila Hotel, and having meaningful discussions on how to make peace in various fields of modern life by drawing on each religion’s spiritual traditions.

The conference will examine peacemaking in Asia based on the five subthemes around which a commission will be formed to implement recommendations and to address emerging issues.

The subthemes are: peacemaking through shared security and conflict-transformation; peacemaking through human-rights education; peacemaking through common values and humanity-building; peacemaking through sustainable development and social justice; and peacemaking through building the past and healing the future.

Forgotten spiritual heritage

“Modern Asia is suffering from the pursuit of material development, and so the spiritual heritage has become the forgotten truth in many of Asia’s secular societies,” said Mir Nawaz Khan Marwat Sunggon Kim, secretary general of ACRP.

“Now the result is the imminent annihilation of humanity on earth due to man’s extreme consumerism and abuse of nature. Here, the spiritual traditions in Asia have the answer to this new crisis. In this assembly, we have new chapters and new delegates from many countries across Asia. ACRP is definitely developing and comes to have more supporters. We hope every participant become a peacemaker, not only for their country but also for Asia and the world.”

According to the CBCP, the theme, “Peacemaking in Asia,” was chosen due to the importance of making peace in a world that has become a more dangerous place to live in.

During this historic event, the ACRP will be called upon to examine practical ways to combine the Asian religious values—non-violence, love and compassion—with concrete strategy to address the problems of structural violence, economic disparity, poverty, discrimination, suppression of human rights and environmental destruction.

It will also seek and draw out many examples of empowering religious communities, so that they can participate in social transformation firmly based on the peacemaking values of each religious tradition.

A perfect example of this is Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolence and Satyagraha, or truth force. The model combines spiritual values and social action and illustrates how the ACRP can foster peacemaking initiatives at local, national, regional and international levels.

Impressive track record

ACRP has set an impressive track record in forging peace initiatives such as the boat- people (Vietnamese refugees) rescue project. It has launched the Human Rights Center in New Delhi and Bangkok, and established the ACRP Peace Education Center in Seoul, Korea.

The first ACRP was held in Singapore in 1976, after participating religious leaders from Asian countries in the 1974 World Conference on Religion and Peace in Belgium decided it would be best to hold a regional conference similar to the WCRP. The Asian version’s aim was to reanimate the Asian religions and cultural heritage, to preserve human dignity, and to promote justice and peace in the Asia-Pacific region.

The next ACRP general assemblies were held in New Delhi, India (1981); Seoul, Korea (1986); Katmandu, Nepal (1991); Ayutthaya, Thailand (1996); and Yogyakarta, Indonesia (2002), which had the theme “Asia, the Reconciler,” and was attended by some 300 religious delegates from Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Confucian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Shinto, Sikh, Tao, Zoroastrian and other religious traditions from 20 Asian and Pacific countries.

Before the Oct. 17 conference, a youth meeting with the theme “Kappianan, Kapayapaan, Kalinaw, Kalilintad: Together in Peace” will be held on Oct 13-15 in Mindanao; and a women’s meeting on the theme “Healing the Past & Building the Future” on Oct. 16 in UST.

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