RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — The Saudi king on Saturday dismissed the chief of the religious police and a cleric who condoned killing the owners of TV networks that broadcast "immoral" content, signaling an effort to weaken the country's hard-line Sunni establishment.
The shake-up — King Abdullah's first since coming to power in August 2005 — included the appointment of a female deputy minister, the highest government position a Saudi woman has attained.
The king also changed the makeup of an influential body of religious scholars, for the first time giving more moderate Sunnis representation to the group whose duties include issuing the religious edicts known as fatwas.
Saudi Arabia's king does not have unlimited power. He has to take into account the sentiments of the sprawling ruling family as well as that of the powerful religious establishment, which helped found the state nearly a century ago.
Abdullah's changes indicate that he has built the necessary support and consensus in the religious elite and in the ruling family.
This particular article in CNN reporting on developments related to bishop, Richard Williamson provides us with near spotless encouragement for ongoing healing in Jewish Catholic relations:
ROME, Italy (CNN) -- Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday the Catholic Church is "profoundly and irrevocably committed to reject all anti-Semitism." ...
"Catholic-Jewish relations are on track," said Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president and founder of The Appeal of Conscience Foundation, who was among the community leaders at the meeting with the pope. "We may have some setbacks, but when you have that strong bond of trust and friendship ... Then we can face every challenge that comes our way."
WASHINGTON - President Obama yesterday established his own White House office to help religious organizations compete for federal grants and installed a young Boston minister as its leader, seeking to amend a Bush-era program that critics said violated the separation between religion and government and used federal money to advance an evangelical Christian agenda.
In the final days of January, 2009 I worked together with both local and international leaders from the world's religions to support spiritually, ceremonially, and liturgically two major events on a single day in New York City
The first event was the celebration of Dr. Sun Myung Moon's 90th birthday. The religious leaders seen here in procession brought as gifts, the sacred scriptures from many of the world's major faith traditions:
The second event occurred later the same evening in which many of the same leaders and some new ones offered prayers of blessing on the international and interreligious couples:
The two-day conference titled Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow (MLT) is being organised jointly by the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) and the Cordoba Initiative. The event is sponsored by the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue.
Hyung Jin Moon, the young son of Sun Myung Moon recently gave an interview in which he offered positive hope that the interfaith passion of his Father is alive and well
Hyung Jin Moon, 29, who in April became international president of a church that has a global following but also a sullied image, grew up in New York, once wore the robes of a Buddhist monk, studied at a Jesuit college and likes American football.
“I love the other world religions. That is what I have focused on in my studies,” Moon said in an interview.
Moon said he wanted to take the church, officially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, beyond its Protestant, evangelical base, increase democratic elections for leaders and strengthen its presence in South Korea.
Pope’s Christmas Greeting Focuses on Pursuit of Peace
The pope blessed the efforts of “all those who, rather than resigning themselves to the twisted logic of conflict and violence, prefer instead the path of dialogue and negotiation as the means of resolving tensions within each country and finding just and lasting solutions to the conflicts troubling the region.”
Mumbai's Jews remain at one with Muslims despite antisemitic attack
December 6, 2008
Rhys Blakely in Mumbai
Even after the terrible events of last week, Mumbai's Jews insist that their relationship with India – and with its Muslims – has not changed.
They note how their ties with their city's Muslim community have historically been strong, the two groups have been drawn together as minorities in a Hindu-dominated land – even by the similarities of their non-vegetarian diets.
"For these reasons, most Bene synagogues in Mumbai are in Muslim areas," Jonathan Solomon, chairman of the Indian Jewish Federation, said.
It should not be surprising then, that the city's Muslims have echoed the wider world's abhorrence of last week's brutality.
It is with sadness, but great pride and gratitude that we pause to honor the courageous, gentle, and pioneering life of IRFWP champion, Professor Jocelyn Hellig, who died after a long battle with cancer.
Professor Hellig brought to the IRFWP a special blend of strength, humility, purpose, and openness. Jocelyn's work endures both in the many lives touched by her compassion and vision, as well as throughout the published corpus both in our monographs and periodical literature.Professor Jocelyn passed into the heavenly realm at 20H20, November 16, 2008.
We pray for her ongoing mission as well as for peace among her family members.
Click here (<-- click) to see some newspaper articles testifying to Jocelyn.
2008 TED Prize Winner and Religious Scholar Karen Armstrong and TED Prize Organizers Launch Charter for Compassion.org
Collaborative Website Invites the World to Participate in Drafting a Groundbreaking, Universal Platform for Compassion
NEW YORK, Nov. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- 2008 TED Prize winner Karen Armstrong, together with the organizers of the TED Prize, today announced the launch of charterforcompassion.org, a groundbreaking interactive website allowing the public to participate in the creation of the Charter for Compassion. The project aims to enlist individuals from across the globe, of all faiths, nationalities, languages, and backgrounds, to help draft the Charter for Compassion.
By Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 13, 2008; Page A18
UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 12 -- World leaders, senior diplomats and religious figures condemned extremism and terrorism Wednesday at a U.N. conference on interfaith dialogue that brought Israel and Arab countries together to promote tolerance.
By Margaret Besheer
12 November 2008
The U.N. General Assembly began a special two-day session Wednesday, focused on the importance of promoting interfaith dialogue in order to strengthen world peace and stability. More than a dozen world leaders were scheduled to attend, including President Bush. The meeting has drawn some criticism because it was at the initiative of Saudi Arabia - a country that does not openly tolerate the practice of faiths other than orthodox Islam. From United Nation's headquarters in New York, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.
Vital and promising interfaith work continues apace
The United Nations General Assembly will hold meetings on interfaith and intercultural dialogue convened under the agenda item 45 “Culture of Peace” on November 12-13 at the invitation of the President of the 63rd Session of the General Assembly.
The meeting will be held at the request of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in order to inform the General Assembly of the process initiated at the World Conference on Dialogue held in Madrid on July 16-18, 2008 and to invite the UN member countries to engage in the said process.
WASHINGTON (AFP) US President George W. Bush has accepted Saudi King Abdullah's personal invitation to attend a November 13 UN inter-faith conference, the White House said Wednesday.
Bush "appreciates King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia's initiative in calling for this dialogue and remains committed to fostering interfaith harmony among all religions, both at home and abroad," said spokeswoman Dana Perino.
Pastor creates interfaith church where ‘Christians are not in charge’
The fledgling group of about three dozen regular participants is overseen by Samir Selmanovic, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for whom interfaith ideals come naturally: He describes himself as an "atheist Muslim" who converted to Christianity during his military service in the former Yugoslavia.
"I wanted to build a church where Christians are not in charge," he explained after a Saturday afternoon gathering of Jewish prayers and Beatles music. "We wanted to include all the people who have a right to belong and be partners in the discussion, not as outsiders that need to be converted, but as insiders that we need to be interdependent with."
Similar interfaith centers are on the rise across the country, according to the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, which reported a surge in the years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. There are now more than 550 such groups in America, with the largest numbers in New York, California, Massachusetts and Illinois.
A Roman Catholic nun, Sister Alphonsa, will become India's first woman saint on Sunday when she is canonised by Pope Benedict at the Vatican.
Coming amid some of the worst anti-Christian riots in India in decades, the ceremony at the Vatican is expected to be watched on television by millions in India, with tens of thousands also expected at the church near Kottayam in Sister Alphonsa's native Kerala state.
Here are five facts about Christianity in India:
Read on in the article here (<-- click)
On August 9, 2008, 20 world religious leaders offered a Merging of the Sacred Waters ceremony to bless the Global Peace Festival. Many of these leaders are preeminent in their areas, and some took this public step with great courage.
The full report on this ceremony will be forthcoming. Essentially the vision was that each religious tradition represents a part of humanity's greatest treasure. On this day, to mark a new beginning of history in which these treasures are no longer held separately, but given freely and unconditionally to merge into the common heritage of our one family under God, the divine absolute.
Here are some images of this stirring moment (the box on the upper right allows these images to be seen in large format):
NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (Reuters) - Senior Christian and Muslim scholars and leaders are meeting in the United States this week seeking common ground in their different faiths to foster better understanding between Islam and the West.
Hosted by Yale University Divinity School, the conference is the first public dialogue launched by Muslim intellectuals in the Common Word group that appealed to Christian leaders last year for discussions among theologians to promote peace.
Most U.S. participants are Protestant theologians and church leaders, including some prominent evangelicals, but some Catholics and Jews also are taking part. The Muslims, both Sunnis and Shi'ites, hail from around the world.
Their conference comes just more than a week after King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, home of Islam's strict Wahhabi sect, hosted an unprecedented meeting of Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists in Madrid and pledged to pursue interfaith dialogue.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka to co-promote Buddhist sites
Colombo, Sri Lanka -- High Commissioner for Pakistan in Sri Lanka Shahzad A. Chaudhry yesterday that the Ghandara heritage in Pakistan is now part of world heritage and we must preserve, protect and exhibit the archaeological findings of Lord Buddha.
"Where Buddhist heritage is concerned it is not only Ghandara which has a 3500 year old history that comes in to focus but more recent findings such as a buried city has been excavated in Balochistan which has a history of 500 years," he pointed out.
This is a part of our combined heritage which we have to share with others he explained.
In fact the entire Ghandara area was a Buddhist region which extended from Taxila in Pakistan to West of Kabul in Afghanistan he pointed out adding that Taxila was a source of Mahayana school of Buddhism and was ruled by many kings and invaders like Alexander the great, Raja Ambi, Chandra Gupta Maurya, Bindusara, Kunala, Kushana, Asoka etc and today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
DHARAMSHALA, India (AFP) — Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama marked his 73rd birthday Sunday with a small function, but with the mood dampened by a lack of progress in talks with China.
Officials said the usual cultural performances were not held this year in Dharamshala, a northern Indian hill town and home to the exiled Tibetan government, due to the unrest in Tibet earlier this year
SPIRITUAL leaders from across the religious spectrum have thrown their support behind a controversial mosque set to be built in suburban Cairns.
Catholic, Anglican, Jewish and Buddhist leaders are all behind the push saying that all faiths have the right to a place of worship.
Plans to expand the mosque, which has been operating in a worker's cottage on Dunn St near the Pioneer Cemetery, into a traditional Islamic style complete with minaret have drawn fire from nearby residents.
But last week the Planning and Environment Court dismissed their appeal to overturn the council approved redevelopment.
In a show of across-faith solidarity, religious leaders and spokesmen have come out in support of Islamic leader Imam Abdul Aziz’s efforts to build a place of worship.
Jordan discovers what could be first church on earth
Excavations are continuing on a hilltop in the rural Jordanian town of Rihab to find additional evidence that supports a recent epoch-making discovery of what renowned archaeologists believe could be the first church on earth.
'We believe this is the world's first church, where early Christians took refuge after they escaped Roman persecution in Jerusalem and came here to perform their rituals in secrecy,' archaeologist Abdul Qader al-Hosan told DPA.
Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish communities, both located in France, have just elected new leaders Sunday, who both vow to make their faiths more tolerant and open to non-believers. From Paris, Lisa Bryant reports the two men assume their new jobs under difficult conditions.
Mohammed Moussaoui, the head of France's Representative Muslim Council and Gilles Bernheim, tapped to become the next Grand Rabbi of France, are both intellectuals who preside in their separate positions over Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish communities. France is home to between five to seven million Muslims and roughly 500,000 to 600,000 Jews.
In interviews on French radio and in newspapers, both new leaders call for a new openness, with Mr. Bernheim specifically talking about the need to reach out to those outside the Jewish faith.
A rabbi, an imam and a priest discuss their 'painful verses'
By The Associated Press
A rabbi, an imam and a priest on Thursday sat down to discuss the most sensitive parts of their sacred scriptures, the verses that offend or anger other faiths.
But instead of the Catholic criticizing Koran quotes or the Jew complaining about a Gospel, each took objectionable passages from his own holy book and tried to explain them to the others.
"Les Versets douloureux" (The Painful Verses), the result of their work, is an unusual book that aims to move interfaith dialogue beyond polite meetings to discuss issues that create tensions among Christians, Muslims and Jews.
Rabbi David Meyer, the driving force behind the project, said his frustration with routine interfaith meetings that avoided tough issues prompted him to seek a different kind of dialogue with Sohaib Bencheikh and Rev. Yves Simoens S.J.
The Constitutional Court, the highest judicial body, said
lifting the headscarf ban was contrary to three articles in the
constitution, including article two that specifies that Turkey
is a secular republic. Turkey is also 99 percent Muslim.
The AK Party says the right to wear the headscarf at
university is a personal and religious freedom. Secularists see
it as a symbol of political Islam.
"If Turkey is a secular, democratic state, we must all
respect the (court's) decisions. The ruling states the
obvious," military chief General Yasar Buyukanit told
What to do when your work deserves honor, when you respect the awarding group, but have your own strong views and ideals you cannot compromise, even in the face of prestige and honore.
Here is one sterling example of how to handle such a situation. A story distributed by Common Ground News Service:
US professor shares Israeli prize with Palestinians
WASHINGTON—Here’s a story of a man with guts... and a big heart. The recipient of one of Israel’s most prestigious prizes donated his $33,333 portion of the shared award yesterday to a Palestinian university and an Israeli human rights group that tries to ease Israeli travel restrictions on Palestinian students.
Technically, this is not a story on religion. Nevertheless it is a matter of interest for people involved in religion and peace. Hopefully these talks can help create the climate for better relations in the region.
winner of the Eighth the Muslim News Awards for Excellence last month was on hand, Monday the 5th May 2008, as all three presidents of the EU -- i.e., the presidents of the European Commission, Parliament and the European Council -- participated in the conference with the religious leaders.
We of the IRFWP are most fortunate to have this first hand account from Imam Sajid, a lifelong devotee of the cause of religion and peace.
Jewish-Catholic consultation on morals to continue
The Consultation met in New York, bringing together representatives of the US Catholic Bishops, the Union of Orthodox Rabbis and the Rabbinical Council of America. While remaining true to their distinct interpretations, they sought common patrimony.
The Ten Commandments can provide the basis for secular arguments on contemporary moral issues, members of the Catholic-Jewish Consultation noted at an April 30 meeting in New York City. Bringing together representatives of the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Union of Orthodox Rabbis (OU) and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), it meets twice a year. The recent meeting focused on religion and public morality in today’s American society.
Speaking from a Jewish perspective, David Berger, Ph.D., head of the Jewish Studies Department at Yeshiva College, New York City, drew a distinction between the religious character of the first four commandments and the “secular” character of the other six. “The Sabbath, for example, is a quintessentially religious commandment, a ritual observance, even though it also has the social values of rest, freedom from work, and bringing people together,” he said.
Dr. Berger spoke also regarding the Sabbath that it has also influenced secular views on human dignity and human rights. However, when it comes to codifying civil law in a country that upholds church-state separation, Berger argued that religious prescriptions carry little weight unless they are also based on secular reason and need.
It is remarkable to witness the awakening of the political community to the necessity of interfaith cooperation as a vital and necessary cornerstone for peaceful life and political stability.
The president of the European Parliament, Hans-Gert Pöttering, and LOK Sabha Opposition leader L K Advani in India are cited here making virtually identical calls to religious leaders to intensify their interfaith and interreligious commitments for the the sake of healthy and stable societies.
Speaking to religious leaders, Hans-Gert Pottering said that religions can make contributions towards tackling major challenges such as the Balkans. The president of the EU parliament credited churches with EU integration.
"The power of religious authorities to make a significant contribution, through wise leadership, to tackling some of today's major challenges should not be underestimated," Pöttering told the Jewish, Islamic and Christian leaders at the Brussels meeting.
Reform Jews open Israel's first state-funded non-Orthodox synagogue
A highly important and largely neglected area for "interfaith" and "interreligious" relations is the pursuit of harmonious and cooperative relations WITHIN religions. In fact peace among religions and across the boundaries of entire faith traditions cannot be pursued effectively nor sustained in the presence of the internal strife and divisions that plague every world religion.
This Israeli supreme court decision represents and extremely important development in the world of religion, as well as in the potential for the development of a wider arena of peace in the region. Frank Kaufmann
Leader of the Reform Yozma congregation in Modi'in, Kinneret Shiryon
"This is a substantial step in recognizing different streams of Judaism in the state of Israel," said Rabbi Kinneret Shiryon, who leads the 240-family congregation...
"Religion in Israel has traditionally been an either-or proposition," said Rabbi Uri Regev, president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. "Most Israelis consider themselves religious or secular and don't accept the liberal streams." Groups like Regev's want to change that. "There's more than one way to be
ANKARA, Turkey — In a sterile, boxy stone building in the shadow of Ankara's central mosque, a group of Turkish scholars is spearheading a reinterpretation of the literary foundations of Islam that some have compared to Christianity's Protestant Reformation.
With the backing of Turkey's reform-minded government, the team of 80 Islamic academicians from around the world is preparing to release a revised collection of the Prophet Muhammad's words and deeds, which guide Muslims on everything from brushing their teeth to reaching heaven.
As with most religions, the accuracy of the words that have been handed down through centuries has long been in dispute.
By year's end, the academics hope to answer those questions by preparing a new intellectual road map for Islam.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urges no violence
Indonesia has banned a controversial film made by a Dutch MP which accuses Islam of inspiring violence.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch right-wing Freedom Party (PVV), would be barred from the archipelago.
The 17-minute film Fitna, which means strife in Arabic, shows terrorist attacks and links them to the Koran.
Small groups of activists gathered outside the Netherlands embassy in Jakarta to protest against the film.
Mr Yudhoyono said world leaders had a moral responsibility to prevent the making of such films.
But he urged protesters not to use violence to make their point.
Earlier, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen called for calm in the Muslim world, saying that hurt feelings need not lead to violence.
The film shows graphic images of terrorist attacks, including the destruction of the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 and the London and Madrid train bombings, interspersed with verses from the Koran.
The film ends with someone turning pages of a Koran, followed by a tearing sound. It concludes: "Stop Islamisation. Defend our freedom."
Fitna has been condemned by the Dutch government, and Dutch broadcasters have avoided showing it. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called it "offensively anti-Islamic".
Mr Wilders has received death threats and is under constant police protection.
COTABATO CITY, Philippines -- Muslim religious leaders here renewed their call against terrorism on Tuesday and asked Filipino Muslims not to be carried away by emotions even as their religion came under attack from a far-Right member of parliament in The Netherlands.
In a rare departure from government practice, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah is planning to convene an interfaith conference for Muslims, Christians and Jews, according to the Saudi-owned Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper.
The call for religious dialog to include Jews is the first by the monarch, whose country's regulations prohibit the importation of non-Muslim religious objects including crucifixes and stars of David.
The Saudi King said representatives of the three major monotheistic faiths need to work together "to defend humanity" from harm, speaking in an address he delivered in Riyadh on Monday.
Death reports as Chinese police open fire on monks and nuns
Hundreds of monks, nuns and local Tibetans who tried to march on a local
government office in western China to demand the return of the Dalai Lama
have been turned back by paramilitary police who opened fire to disperse the
China says it has acted with the utmost restraint in response to the unrest.
It said paramilitary had opened fire on protesters in Aba, a nearby district
of Sichuan province, last week, wounding four people. Tibetans say several
people were killed in the shooting.
The Vatican and Muslim leaders agreed on Wednesday to establish a permanent official dialogue to improve often difficult relations and heal wounds still open from a controversial papal speech in 2006.
“We emerged with a permanent structure that will ensure that the Catholic-Muslim engagement and dialogue continues into the future,” said Professor Aref Ali Nayed, director of the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Amman, Jordan.
Catholic-Muslim relations nosedived in 2006 after Pope Benedict delivered a lecture in Regensburg, Germany, that was taken by Muslims to imply that Islam was violent and irrational.
“For some Muslims the wounds of the (pope’s) German lecture are not completely healed and there are some Muslims who are boycotting the Vatican ... and still feel offended by that quite deeply,” Nayed said in answer to a question.
The courses are being held in an unusual location - the Catholic Institute of Paris, an institution better known for training priests and Christian scholars than Muslim clerics. Established in collaboration with the French government and the Paris mosque, the program began in January with a largely male class of 25. It aims to give the students a broad understanding of France's legal, historical and social mores.
What the year-long program does not do, says Interior Ministry spokesman Gerard Gachet is offer theology training.
Gachet says religious training for the future clerics is the role of Muslim institutes. But the government believes the courses on France will help shape a French Islam that is perfectly in touch with society.
The entire article is here (<-- click). It is very interesting.
China admitted today that it had quashed a protest by Buddhist monks in the
Tibetan capital of Lhasa, underscoring the opposition Beijing still faces to
its rule in the remote Himalayan region.
Asked about the report, Qin Gang, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, told
reporters: “Yesterday afternoon some monks in Lhasa, abetted by a small
handful of people, did some illegal things that challenged social stability.
“As for how to deal with these detained Tibetans, they have been dealt with
according to the law."
Chinese troops killed tens of thousands of Tibetans as they quashed the 1959
uprising, according to the Tibetan government-in-exile’s website. Tibet’s
spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled his homeland following the uprising.
CAIRO, Egypt -- Five senior Thai Buddhist monks arrived in the Egyptian capital on Sunday for an official visit in which they will hold talks with the Sunni Muslims’ highest spiritual leader later in the week.
Mr. Noppadol said the visit by the Thai Buddhist monks to Egypt marked the first time for an official meeting between leaders of the Buddhism and Muslim religions in Egypt.
He said the Thai monks would meet and confer with Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, highest spiritual authority for Sunni Muslims in Egypt, on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Both sides were expected to exchange religious teachings which could help reduce misunderstanding and mistrust between Thai Buddhists and Thai Muslims in Thailand’s deep south, which has led to renewed violence and the deaths of around 3,000 people over the past four years.
Last year, Sheikh Tantawi visited Thailand and visited the acting Thai Buddhist monks leader.
In a ground breaking move Pope Benedict XVI has approved the setting up of a permanent Catholic-Muslim Forum - the first of its kind - which is to hold its inaugural summit meeting in the Vatican in November.
The historic move follows three days of talks in Rome between Vatican officials and a Muslim delegation representing 138 Muslim scholars who last year wrote an open letter to the Pope and other Christian leaders calling for dialogue, a move inspired by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammed bin Talal of Jordan.
The Muslim initiative was a reponse to the Pope's controversial speech at Regensburg University in his native Germany in 2006, where he appeared to describe Islam as inherently violent and irrational by quoting a Byzantine Emperor. He later said he had been misunderstood, and prayed alongside an imam at the Blue Mosque in Istanbul during a visit to Turkey.
Rome - Vatican officials and a delegation of Muslim leaders were expected later Wednesday to wrap up two days of talks aimed at organizing a summit on interfaith dialogue later this year. The Muslim delegation which includes representatives from Italy, Britain, Jordan and Turkey was scheduled to give a news conference in Rome at 1500 GMT.
VATICAN CITY - Muslim scholars who have called for greater dialogue with Christians began two days of talks Tuesday with the Vatican to prepare for what church officials say will be a historic audience with Pope Benedict XVI.
The group includes representatives of 138 Muslim scholars and intellectuals who wrote to Benedict and other Christian leaders last year urging Christians and Muslims to develop their common ground of belief in one God.
New Delhi, Mar.4 : Jia Qinglin, the Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), has pledged to use religion for promoting social harmony across China.
"We should fully follow the policy on freedom of religious belief, implement the regulations on religious affairs, and conduct thorough research on important and difficult issues related to religion," The China Daily quoted him, as saying.
"We should guide religious leaders and believers to improve their lives, and make full use of their positive role in promoting social harmony," he added in a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the first session of the 11th CPPCC National Committee.
Figures from the State Administration for Religious Affairs suggest that there are more than 100 million believers in the country, mostly Buddhists, Taoists, Protestants, Catholics and Muslims.
Among them are 18 million Muslims, 10 million Protestants and four million Catholics.
Faith leaders across America are urging President George W. Bush to stop United States-sponsored torture by signing the Intelligence Authorization Act, which prohibits the use of torture as an interrogation technique
Letters have been sent to Bush from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and the National Council of Churches USA.
One member of both groups, the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, the church's social action agency, launched a campaign on 20 February 2008 called "United Methodists Do Not Torture," and more than 1,000 people have signed its petition calling for Bush to sign the legislation.
Mr Bush's own religious background is Methodist, though he refused to meet his own denomination's bishops in the run up to the Iraq war, which they publicly opposed.
US President George W. Bush has often said radicals in the Islamic world who commit terrorist attacks are motivated by hatred for freedom and democracy, but a new poll suggests exactly the opposite may be true.
Only about seven percent of Muslims condone terrorist attacks, but none of these 'politically radicalised' gave religious justification for their beliefs, instead voicing fears that the West and the US are seeking to occupy and dominate the Islamic world.
The report, titled “U.S. Religious Landscape Survey,” depicts a highly fluid and diverse national religious life. If shifts among Protestant denominations are included, then it appears that 44 percent of Americans have switched religious affiliations. ...
Michael Lindsay, assistant director of the Center on Race, Religion and Urban Life at Rice University, echoed that view. “Religion is the single most important factor that drives American belief attitudes and behaviors,” said Mr. Lindsay, who had read the Pew report. “It is a powerful indicator of where America will end up on politics, culture, family life. If you want to understand America, you have to understand religion in America.”
Muslim leaders from around the world will tomorrow issue a statement to the world's Jewish Community in "a call for positive and constructive action that aims to improve Muslim - Jewish relations."
In the letter, which has emerged from the Muslim-Jewish study centre at the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths in Cambridge, Muslim scholars admit: "Many Jews and Muslims today stand apart from each other due to feelings of anger, which in some parts of the world, translate into violence.
"It is our contention that we are faced today not with ‘a clash of civilizations’ but with ‘a clash of ill-informed misunderstandings’."
Lhasa, Tibet (China) -- The Monlam Chenmo, also known as The Great Prayer Festival falls on the 4th - 11th day of the 1st Tibetan Lunar month. This is the greatest religious festival in Tibet and was established in 1409 by the great Tibetan philosopher, saint, monastic teacher, and social reformer, Tsong Khapa Losang Drakpa (1357-1419), the founder of the Geluk tradition of the Tibetan Buddhism.
The first prayer was held in Jokhang, the central cathedral in Lhasa. He invited all the people of Tibet to a two-week-long festival of prayer, auspicious ritual, teachings, and celebrations, from the first new moon until the full moon of the Lunar New Year. Many hundreds of thousands, perhaps more than a million came from near and far.
The Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama will preside over the final prayer ceremony and will also give a teaching from the Jataka Tales at the Main Tibetan Temple (Tsug lag Khang). Large butter sculptures will be displayed amidst butter lamps offered and lit by the pilgrims and residents of Dharamsala.
ATHENS — Archbishop Christodoulos, the charismatic head of the Greek Orthodox Church who helped heal centuries-old grievances with the Roman Catholic Church but stirred controversy with his politically tinged statements and tireless interventions in state affairs, died on Monday. He was 69....
Schooled by Catholic monks in Athens, the archbishop moved to mend the divide between Eastern European and Rome-based Christianity, which dates back to 1054 but deepened in the 20th century. He received the late Pope John Paul II in Athens in 2001 — the first papal visit to Greece in nearly 1,300 years. Despite widespread opposition from conservative adherents of the Orthodox faith, he followed up with a historic visit to the Vatican last year, meeting Pope Benedict XVI.
VATICAN CITY - Catholic and Muslim representatives plan to meet in Rome in the spring to start a "historic" dialogue between the faiths after relations were soured by Pope Benedict XVI's 2006 comments about Islam and holy war, Vatican officials said.
Benedict proposed the encounter as part of his official response to an open letter sent to him and other Christian leaders in October by 138 Muslim scholars from around the world. The letter urged Christians and Muslims to develop their common ground of belief in one God.
The agenda, he said, would cover three main topics: respect for the dignity of each person, interreligious dialogue based on reciprocal understanding, and instruction of tolerance among the young.
A council of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders devised a six-point plan to help bring about reconciliation.
By Jane Lampman
| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Council: Members of the Council of Religious Institutions in the Holy Land met Nov. 6 in Washington at the Norwegian ambassador's
residence prior to peace talks in Annapolis, Md.
For some 60 years, attempts to craft a lasting peace for the Holy Land have fallen woefully short. As a new round of Israeli-Palestinian
talks gets under way, some leaders from the region are insisting that it's time to include a religious dimension in the peace
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 16, 2007;
Two major Jewish and Muslim organizations unveiled an interfaith dialogue curriculum yesterday and are urging their hundreds of thousands of members to use it. Both sides say it is the broadest Jewish-Muslim interfaith effort in the continent's history.
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, North America's largest Jewish movement, announced the partnership with the Islamic Society of North America at his group's biennial convention in San Diego.
We have covered through a number of articles on these pages controversy that arose regarding the freedom of Olympians to bring Bibles with them to the '08 games.
It might be surprising to read of this development.
It is a country where people caught smuggling religious texts or organising illicit services can face years in jail. Yet China is about to become home to the world's biggest Bible factory, producing a staggering one million copies a month.
The aircraft hangar-sized plant in an industrial park outside the eastern city of Nanjing will be capable of producing more than one Bible every second and is expected to supply one quarter of all the world's Bibles by 2009.
Amity Printing - a joint venture between a Chinese Christian charity and the UK-based United Bible Societies - is already printing up to 800,000 Bibles a month, 80 percent of which are distributed to officially-approved churches across China.
Holy Kaaba to be draped with a $5-million covering
Here at IRFWP dot org we believe that it is important to learn as much as possible about one another's religions. Especially the simple and non controversial basics that awaken in us awe and our sense of the sacred.
The Kaaba, a cube-shaped structure honoured by Muslims as the house of God, will be covered soon with a new 670-kg black silk blanket as part of the annual preparations for the holy Muslim Haj (pilgrimage), reports said Thursday.
The Kaaba cover, referred to as a 'kiswa' in Arabic, is made of black silk and adorned with phrases in praise of God, ornamented with 150 kg of gold and silver thread.
The 14-metre-long cloth has a gilded 95-centimetre belt along the top containing verses from the Koran in Arabic calligraphy within an arabesque frame.
Costing about $5.36 million, the kiswa took a whole year to produce in a specialised factory.
Emergency workers searched for bodies and survivors Wednesday after twin truck bombings by an affiliate of al-Qaida targeted U.N. offices and a government building in Algiers, killing at least 30 people.
As many as 11 U.N. workers, possibly more, were killed, U.N. officials said.
"The renewed threat by al-Qaida against French interests in North Africa cannot be ignored," the embassy said on its Web site.
Al-Qaida has called for attacks on French and Spanish interests in North Africa. French President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Algeria last week.
Al-Qaida's self-styled North African branch, in a posting on a militant Web site, said two suicide bombers attacked the buildings Tuesday with trucks carrying 1,760 pounds of explosives each.
This is precisely the mission of enlightened religious leaders. It is the hope of IRFWP that this conscientious, applied vision of positive religious contribution to the welfare of multi-religious societies be emulated globally.
LONDON, Nov. 29 — Moderate British Muslim leaders on Thursday proposed guidelines that aim to root out extremism, promote a culture of “civic responsibility” and foster women’s rights in the country’s mosques, Islamic centers and Muslim schools.
The guidelines, circulated in draft form to Muslim groups across the country, represent a sweeping new effort by the moderate leaders to combat alienation among disaffected Muslim youth and to foster a new atmosphere of openness and tolerance among Britain’s two million Muslims, particularly in the country’s 1,500 mosques.
The 10-point “code of conduct” will be put before Muslim groups for public discussion, with the aim of producing a final version by March 2008. The proposals would commit groups that accept the code to “actively combat all forms of violent extremism” within their communities and to “promote civic responsibility of Muslims in wider society.”
KANO, Nigeria — Just last year, the morality police roamed these streets in dusky blue uniforms and black berets, brandishing cudgels at prayer shirkers and dragging fornicators into Islamic courts to face sentences like death by public stoning.
But these days, the fearsome police officers, known as the Hisbah, are little more than glorified crossing guards. They have largely been confined to their barracks and assigned anodyne tasks like directing traffic and helping fans to their seats at soccer games.
“Shariah needs to be practical,” said Bala Abdullahi, a civil servant here. “We are a developing country, so there is a kind of moderation between the ideas of the West and traditional Islamic values. We try to weigh it so there is no contradiction.”
AMRITSAR • Leaders of key faiths met in the holy Indian city of Amritsar yesterday seeking ways to break the bitter cycle of sectarian violence, the organisers said.
The third meeting of the Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders, a group founded in 1996 to promote inter-faith dialogue, brings together prominent Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists in a five day-forum to “share wisdom” on how to avoid conflicts, said Rabbi Alon Goshen-Gottstein.
The backdrop of religious-related violence was a constant reminder for the leaders that a process is needed to help people work out bitter disputes, such as sect clashes among Muslims, Buddhist monks protesting the junta in Myanmar or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Goshen-Gottstein said.
“The main goal is to consolidate the gains of previous conferences and find a strategy to develop a broad educational curricula,” he added. Previous conferences were held in Spain in 2003 and Taiwan in 2005.
Speakers include the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Chinese-controlled Tibet who has lived in exile in India since 1959.
“Leaders like the Dalai Lama will debate what is possible or appropriate in sharing wisdom across faiths and even the question of whether we should,” said Simon Cohen, a spokesman for the event and managing director of Britain-based Global Tolerance.
“One thing that all agree on is the concept of giving and receiving love and forgiveness. We want to bring that into the real world,” he said.
Other participants include Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo of India, Chief Rabbi Joseph Azran of Israel and religious scholar Adamou Ndam Njoya of Cameroon.
Friday (November 16), 7:00 PM-8:30 PM
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
Room - America's Cup A
This year the Interreligious Federation for World Peace (IRFWP) and the Religion Office of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) continues with the second in the series of receptions introducing to the Academy the pending launch and ongoing progress of the New World Encyclopedia (a full, general knowledge encyclopedia based in universal values).
Though technically a political clash, nevertheless (and not without reason) the conflict in Ireland is seen and felt by many as religious. Even the group mentioned in this positive news article bears word Protestant in its name.
DUBLIN, Nov. 11 (AP) — The largest Protestant paramilitary group in Northern Ireland on Sunday renounced violence, officially ending the decades of terror it inflicted on the province’s Roman Catholic minority.
The group, the outlawed Ulster Defense Association, said that it was disbanding all of its armed units and would store its weapons beyond the reach of rank-and-file members, but that it was not yet willing to hand over its arsenal to international disarmament officials.
“The Ulster Defense Association believes that the war is over, and we are now in a new democratic dispensation that will lead to permanent political stability,” the group said, referring to the Catholic-Protestant administration established in May under the terms of a 1998 peace accord.
Representatives of the group made the announcement in front of hundreds of supporters in a hard-line Protestant part of Belfast on Remembrance Sunday, the British holiday that honors the dead from two world wars.
First Sunni-Shia 'fatwa against violence' to be signed in Iraq
Senior religious leaders in Iraq are preparing to sign an unprecedented “fatwa against violence” that will help reconcile the rival Sunni and Shia branches of Islam and herald new hopes for peace in the war-torn country.
The fatwa, negotiated by the peace organisation run by the Anglican “Vicar of Baghdad” Canon Andrew White, will mark a significant move towards a settlement between the Shia and Sunni communities and ease the process towards a political solution.
The rock-hewn churches of Lalibela are among Ethiopia's crowning glories, recognized internationally as a unique and important site. Built in the early 1200s by King Lalibela, the churches continue to draw pilgrims from around the world
Legend has it that before he became king, Saint Gebre Mesqel Lalibela fell into a deep sleep for three days after his half-brother tried to poison him.
Saint Gebre Mesqel Lalibela
While he was asleep, angels took Lalibela to heaven and showed him the magnificent churches he was to build. Lalibela then fled to Jerusalem where, another legend says, God showed him a vision of a new Jerusalem in the Ethiopian town of Roha, now called Lalibela.
Many experts contend that the 11 churches carved out of rock were constructed under the leadership of King Lalibela, who reigned from 1181 to 1221,
Among the most famous churches is Bet Giorgis, or St. George Church. Visitors reach its entrance by walking along a narrow path surrounded by high rock walls.
BANGKOK, Thursday, Nov. 1 — A small group of Buddhist monks held a protest march in Myanmar on Wednesday in the first significant public show of defiance since troops crushed a pro-democracy uprising a month ago.
Reports from inside the country said 100 to 200 monks had defied a ban on assembly and marched through the streets of Pakokku, a medium-sized city in central Myanmar that was the site of a clash between monks and soldiers in September that set off the mass protests in larger cities.
For decades, two powerful institutions have shaped Burmese life: the 500,000-member Buddhist clergy, which commands a moral authority over the population, and Senior Gen. Than Shwe’s junta, whose 450,000-strong military controls the population through intimidation.
Their uneasy coexistence has shattered. After scattered demonstrations erupted against sharp increases in fuel prices in August, thousands of monks protested the junta’s economic mismanagement and political repression. The military responded with batons and bullets.
The guns have prevailed over mantras, at least for now.
“They took away truckloads of monks and laypeople,” said the deputy leader of a monastery in Yangon, the country’s most populous city. “They had the monks kneel down, with their hands on the back of their heads. Anyone who raised his head was beaten.”
Emory University was greatly honored to welcome His Holiness the Dalai Lama for a three-day visit to the university from October 20-22, 2007. His Holiness accepted Emory's offer of a Presidential Distinguished Professorship, and his visit to the university included his installment in this position and his inaugural lecture.
BEIJING — Police in the capital of Tibet clashed for four days with Buddhist monks trying to celebrate the awarding of a congressional honor to the Dalai Lama, a Hong Kong newspaper reported today.
It said that after the clash, the monastery was surrounded by 3,000 armed police who refused to allow more than 1,000 monks to leave. It gave no other details and did not say if there were any injuries.
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- Myanmar's military junta acknowledged Wednesday that it detained nearly 3,000 people during a crackdown on recent pro-democracy protests, with hundreds still remaining in custody.
The official statement on the front-page of The New Light of Myanmar, a government mouthpiece, said authorities were still hunting for demonstrators who took part in the recent uprising.
''Those who led, got involved in and supported the unrest which broke out in September were called in and are being interrogated,'' the junta said.
''Some are still being called in for questioning and those who should be released will be.''
The statement said that 2,927 people had been arrested since the crackdown started and nearly 500 were still in custody.
In their last tally of arrests, the junta said that nearly 2,100 had been detained.
Everyone released from custody was required to sign ''pledges'' the statement said, without elaborating.
"We welcome the letter of these Islamic leaders and scholars," said the Rev. Michael Livingston, president of the National Council of Churches USA (NCC), in response to a document, "A Common Word between Us and You," released by 138 moderate Muslim leaders on the occasion of Eid-al-Fitr, the concluding day of Ramadan, the month-long season of fasting and prayer.
"It is a sign of hope in a violent world," he added.
Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, associate general secretary for Interfaith Relations added his gratitude for what he called "a deliberate and thoughtful" document.
"We thank the Islamic leaders for their initiative," Livingston said.
The National Council of Churches USA is the ecumenical voice of 35 of America's Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, historic African American and traditional peace churches. These NCC member communions have 45 million faithful members in 100,000 congregations in all 50 states.
LONDON (Reuters) - More than 130 Muslim scholars called on Thursday for peace and understanding between Islam and Christianity, saying "the very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake".
In a letter to Pope Benedict and other Christian leaders, Muslim scholars from around the world said finding common ground between the world's biggest religions was not simply a matter for polite dialogue between religious leaders.
"If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world's inhabitants," the scholars wrote.
"Our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake," they wrote.
Myanmar Threatened With Sanctions Amid Global Protest
By Bill Varner and Laura Cochrane
Oct. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. said it may seek United Nations sanctions against Myanmar as a worldwide show of support for pro-democracy demonstrators got under way.
Campaigners in countries including Australia, Belgium, Canada, South Korea, the U.K. and Ireland planned to march at noon local time, wearing red headbands in support of Buddhist monks who've been arrested, the Burma Campaign U.K. said on its Web site.
``This day of action is to show that the crisis has not gone away. The UN Security Council must act now to end the crackdown and they must keep focused on this crisis until we know the people of Burma are safe,'' said Ko Aung, a Burmese refugee in the U.K.
Updated: 13:57, Wednesday September 26, 2007 Up to five monks are reported to have been killed in violent protests in Burma - Gordon Brown has called for a UN security council meeting this afternoon to discuss the growing crisis.
Monks carried surgical masks to protect against tear gas
"The whole world is now watching Burma," Mr Brown said.
Different sources in Burma have made different claims about a death toll as thousands took part in demonstrations for a ninth consecutive day.
Cremation is latest battlefield in Israel's perennial religious wars
From its earliest days the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace (IRFWP), (more precisely the Council for the World's Religions (CWR), founded in 1985) recognized INTRA religious dialogue as vital and indispensable to the mission of religion and peace. Religions divided in themselves can not function reliably as dialogue partners. For this reason, CWR blazed a strong and fine trail of intrareligious dialogue greatly serving to knit together the inner factions of the world's great religious families.
Sadly this work was not properly sustained, leaving now horrible rifts in the major religions. Religion has descended further from its mission for peace when factions so misread scripture as to find justification not only for violence, but violence against innocents, and violence against our own fellow believers.
We are most accustomed to wincing at the horror of deaths among pilgrims as we see in Iraq frequently. Today however evidence of intra Jewish strife has made the news. It may seem merely like the destruction of a single and simple crematorium, but the intelligent reader will recognize in this the inner rifts in Israel that help to render it incapable of effective peace seeking for its own benefit.
Backed by Cheering Crowds, Defiant Monks Protest Burma's Junta
Myanmar, of course is the home of freedom fighter Aung San Suu Kyi.
The junta there held general elections in 1990 but refused to honor the results when pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won. Suu Kyi has been in detention or under house arrest for more than 11 years.
Now monks are leading anti-junta protests there. It is important for all religious believers to be prayerful and in solidarity with our fellow religionists presently involved in life risking activity.
TEHRAN, IRAN: Moderate former president appointed to key religious post
THE NEWS TRIBUNE
Published: September 5th, 2007 01:00 AM
Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani rose to a key religious post Tuesday in a move that moderates considered a victory at a time Tehran is facing international pressure over its nuclear ambitions and U.S. threats to brand its Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.
Rafsanjani, widely regarded as a pragmatist, was appointed to head the Assembly of Experts, a clerical body that selects the nation’s supreme religious leader. The new position further enhances his portfolio and was viewed by many analysts as at least a temporary obstacle to the hard-line conservatives running the government.
Eveline Yang / The Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library
Monks unveil a Tibetan tangka, a gigantic fabric painting, depicting Buddha Shakyamuni at the 2005 Drepung Yogurt Festival in Tibet. A new exhibit at the Rubin Museum of Art, ‘BIG! Himalayan Art,’ showcases the largest tangkas from the museum’s collection.
Big art seeks to awe. It also seeks to speak to many people at once, in the context of public festivals or religious observances. The Rubin Museum of Art exhibits Donald and Shelley Rubin's outstanding collection of Himalayan art, and currently features an exhibition that provides a fine introduction both to that art and to the museum: "BIG! Himalayan Art" showcases more than 30 large-scale artworks from the collection. These include textiles, ritual objects, and especially tangkas (scroll paintings on cloth).
Helsinki, Aug 22 (Xinhua) Representatives of Iraq's Shia and Sunni Muslim groups will meet in Finland late next week to negotiate ways to defuse factional fighting in the war-torn country, Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat reported Wednesday.
The report said the meeting would be hosted in part by the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), a non-profit organization founded by former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari. It also said the Iraqi government was not involved in the process.
“Managers have to think what the factors are that attract or cause people to leave their organization,” said Riccardi, now senior adviser on diversity and inclusion at the Conference Board, which published a report last November on faith in the workplace.
“If religion is one, they have to think about how to manage that,” Riccardi said, and create an environment that is inviting to as many people as possible.
Man turns down $5,000,000,000 (that's 5 Billion) to save ancestral lands
IRFWP.org usually reports on matters of interfaith, and religion and peace issues. Nevertheless it is important to secure for Jeffrey Lee as much coverage as possible for his efforts to protect sacred lands.
Jewish Kaddish, Catholic psalms at Notre Dame for funeral of Jewish-born French cardinal
By Angela Doland
3:01 p.m. August 9, 2007
PARIS – Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, a convert from Judaism who sought to bring the faiths closer during his extraordinary life, is carrying on the mission in death – with a funeral rich in symbolism that includes a Jewish prayer read by a Nazi death camp survivor.
Jews and Roman Catholics plan to join in front of the sculpted saints of the majestic Notre Dame Cathedral on Friday to hear the Jewish prayer, known as the Mourner's Kaddish, before the funeral Mass for the former archbishop of Paris.
Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger and Rabbi Israël Singer
Shiite pilgrims converge on the holy the shrine of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim in northern Baghdad on Thursday. Thousands of Shiite pilgrims made their annual march to commemorate the eighth-century death of Imam Moussa al-Kadhim, a key Shiite saint. AP Photos
Morning Edition, August 9, 2007 ·
Tens of thousands of Shiites faced potential danger on Thursday in their walk for hours, or even days, to perform an annual pilgrimage to the shrine of a much-loved Imam, or saint.
New York Catholics visit mosque, learn about Islam
By Beth Griffin
Catholic News Service
WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. (CNS) -- In late July, carloads of curious Catholics caravanned north from their church to a mosque in the next county.
Three dozen Catholics who regularly attend Mass at the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement's Graymoor Spiritual Life Center in Garrison accepted a Muslim visitor's invitation to attend services at Masjid Al-Noor, his mosque in Wappingers Falls
IRFWP praises and encourages all efforts at increasing religious cooperation in the world.
Jesus himself in the desperate times of his passing implored God the Father for harmony among his followers, praying "Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one."
Cardinal Roger Etchegaray
Should Moscow and Rome choose Jesus' preference after a despised history of division, let it be with a heart and the plan to extend that same love to all believers in all world traditions.
"I view an honor crime as a repulsive act, condemned and prohibited by religion," Fadlallah, the most revered religious authority for Lebanon's 1.2 million Shiites, said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press.
Please read this entire Washington Post article HERE. Two major and very distinct and separate Muslim groups (Council on American-Islamic Relations -CAIR, and Muslim American Society (MAS) Freedom Foundation, sent unconditional protest of the kidnappings, as well as letters of condolences to the Korean government.
"A spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations yesterday said the group "condemns the taking of the Korean hostages and demands that the kidnappers release them immediately and unconditionally."
"MAS Freedom completely condemns the taking and killing of South Korean Christian hostages in Afghanistan as not only a gross violation of the human rights of these captives, but also a horrible violation of the norms of basic human decency," Mr. Bray said."
Of special note is the fact that Christian missionaries are involved in these statements and declarations.
Please read this important and informative article (Click this link: http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=38742)so as to increase your awareness of urgent religious matters associated with the present violent climate in Iraq. Thank you.
24 Jul, 2007 l 1940 hrs IST AFP
CAIRO: Egypt's official religious advisor has ruled that Muslims are free to change their faith as it is a matter between an individual and God, in a move which could have far-reaching implications for the country's Christians.
"The essential question before us is can a person who is Muslim choose a religion other than Islam? The answer is yes, they can," Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said in a posting on a Washington Post-Newsweek forum picked up by the Egyptian press on Tuesday.
In many Muslim societies, those who convert to another religion are considered apostates and can be subject to capital punishment.
RRC Receives $300,000 From Henry Luce Foundation for Interfaith Education
Wyncote, PA, July 18 — The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College has received a $300,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to support a unique and comprehensive initiative to improve understanding among Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Here is something quite remarkable! The story speaks for itself. Please read it in its entirety
US Senate opens with Hindu prayers; protesters held
Friday 13th July, 2007
For the first time in US history the country's Senate opened with the chanting of the Gayatri Mantra from the Rig-Veda, the oldest Hindu scripture composed around 1,500 B.C., even as three Christian protesters who tried to disrupt the proceedings were arrested.
The article naturally exudes the pride of the Christian side, admiring their self perceived virtues of faith, honesty, rectitude, and correctness, but OK, this is fine. The important thing is to know that a meeting like this has happened, and hopefully there will be more.
Evangelical Christians have enormous influence over how America behaves internationally. The Ambassadors on hand were wise to make the invitation, and try to learn these points of view.
A Significant Meeting Between Muslims and Christians
From: Jonathan Falwell
Date: July 9, 2007
On Monday, July 2, I attended what I can only pray may become a historic meeting. Several weeks ago, I received a call about attending a meeting at the Egyptian Embassy in Washington, D.C. I was told that this meeting would be hosted by the Ambassador from Egypt and might be attended by representatives of other Arab nations, as well as by 10-15 pastors, evangelists and Christian media representatives.
This is distressing news from HH Benedict XVI. HH seems to be confirming the worst fears of those who anticipated his predilections at the time of his selection.
clipped from news.google.com
BY SUSAN HOGAN/ALBACH Religion Reporter/shogan@suntimes
With Pope Benedict XVI's blessing, the Vatican released a document Tuesday that said the Catholic Church is the one true church and other Christian bodies shouldn't be called churches.
clipped from USA Today
Pope Benedict XVI reiterated the Roman Catholic Church's position that other Christian denominations aren't true churches, meaning that his followers are the only ones who will achieve true salvation.
Leaders of 5 faiths decry violence in name of religion
Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Jews meet in Indonesia, where they urge others around the world to practice tolerance.
By K. Connie Kang
Times Staff Writer
June 30, 2007
In a historic action, top leaders of five great religions met this month in Indonesia — home to 200 million Muslims — to condemn violence inflicted in the name of religion.
The leaders representing Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim traditions came from five countries and included former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid and Los Angeles Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The group said in a joint communique that the world's spiritual leaders have a "special obligation" to denounce "horrific acts" committed in the name of religion. The Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center was a co-sponsor of the event.
Religious leaders agree they can play bigger role in countering terrorist ideologies
By May Wong, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 21 June 2007 1950 hrs
Singapore: Local and international religious leaders agree they can play a bigger role in countering terrorist ideologies.
They were responding to Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng's call for faith leaders to lead the way.
Religious and community leaders interact often with their congregation.
And with some 50 religious delegates from countries like Malaysia and Sweden here to attend a seminar on inter-faith harmony, Deputy Prime Minister Wong told them they are in a good position to challenge terrorist messages, whenever they occur.
This is an interesting article. It allows us to see some of the details of the process whereby the Catholic Church decides who's a saint. One of the interesting elements is "the Church demands proof of a medically unexplained healing." In this case a case is presented in which Parkinsons is claimed to have been cured. The same disease suffered by John Paul II himself!"
John Paul sainthood bid reaches landmark
by Philip Pullella (Reuters, April 2, 2007)
Vatican City - The campaign to make Pope John Paul a saint reached a landmark on Monday as promoters offered proof of a purported miracle but his successor gave no indication he would bend the rules to hasten the procedure.
At an afternoon mass for thousands of people in St Peter's Square, Pope Benedict commemorated John Paul on the second anniversary of his death as Church officials formally concluded the first phase of a probe into the late pope's holiness.
South Korean religious leaders to visit Pyongyang in May
Yonhap, March 27, 2007
Seoul, South Korea - A pan-religious group in South Korea said Tuesday it will send a delegation to North Korea in May to promote inter-Korean religious exchanges.
Forty officials from the Korean Conference on Religion and Peace (KCRP) will visit Pyongyang for four days from May 5. The Korean Conference on Religion (KCR), a religious body in the North, invited the group, the KCRP said.
Muslim leader says extremist elements here must be tackled
Thursday February 8th 2007
A PROMINENT Dublin imam has stepped up warnings about Muslim fanatics in Ireland and called for urgent action to tackle the cult of the suicide bomber.
The imam and his Supreme Muslim Council (SMC) also yesterday published a '10-point proposal to stop extremism from taking hold', including "publicly naming and shaming imams and other religious leaders who advocate religious intolerance and the subjugation of women".
The Chairman of the Islamic Council of Norway, the Imams of Oslo's three biggest mosques and other leaders of the Muslim community last night came for dinner in the IofC house in Oslo to meet Imam Dr. Abduljalil Sajid from Great Britain . He had attended a meeting of the European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL), and stayed on for four days to work with Initiatives of Change.
Parsippany, USA - The renegade Roman Catholic archbishop who was excommunicated by the Vatican after he installed married priests as bishops acknowledged Saturday that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon was supporting his crusade against mandatory celibacy.
By Phil Stewart (Reuters, December 03, 2006)
Vatican City - Pope Benedict said on Sunday he hoped his trip to Turkey last week had helped build "useful dialogue" with Muslims. During his four-day fence-mending visit, the Pope had called Islam a peaceful faith and voiced his support for Ankara's bid to join the European Union.
Pope Benedict XVI to hold Vatican summit on married priests
The Associated Press Published: November 13, 2006
VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI and top Vatican officials will hold a meeting to discuss requests for lifting the celibacy requirement made by priests seeking to marry or who have already married, the Vatican said Monday.
The summit will take place on Thursday and was called because of the recent excommunication of Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, the Vatican said in a statement.
RP, Pakistan urge creation of an interfaith unit in UN
By Veronica Uy
Last updated 04:36pm (Mla time) 11/07/2006
THE Philippines and Pakistan on Monday asked the United Nations Secretary General to create within the UN Secretariat a unit that would "ensure overall coordination and coherence in the UN system's efforts to promote inter-religious, intercultural, and inter-civilizational dialogue and cooperation."
As Israel continues to strike inside Lebanon in a bid to rout Hizbullah, the radical Islamist group is using two weapons to wage war: rockets and, more effective, TV images of civilian destruction inflicted by Israeli bombs.
The latter "weapon," broadcast over the Hizbullah-run TV station Al Manar to pump up Arab sympathies, may in the end be more powerful than Israel's military punch - a counterpunch to Israel's assertion it can crush Hizbullah through use of force.
Churches and Christian organizations have changed their attitude towards HIV/AIDs since the first report on AIDS was published twenty-five years ago, The Christian Post reports. Many churches are now joining the fight against what experts have called ‘‘the worst and deadliest epidemic that humankind has ever experienced.’’
Reflections on the 2nd Jewish-Christian Dialogue of the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF)
Frank Kaufmann May 31, 2006
The second Jewish-Christian Dialogue of the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI) of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) took place from May 17-18, 2006 in the beautiful Olive Tree hotel, 10 minutes from the Damascus gate of Old Jerusalem city. Our 8th floor meeting room was an intimate, sun-drenched space, with floor to ceiling windows on 3 sides of a room that fit our 18 - 20 participants snugly.
THE Haryana State Legal Services Authority is considering the possibility of giving exemption from the remaining term oimprisonment to a prisoner in case he or she wants to join the mainstream by bringing improvement in conduct and behaviour.
The recent UPF, Jewish-Christian Dialogue (Jerusalem, March 13 - 14) comes not a moment too soon. The pursuit of peace in the Holy Land, and by extension the region and world, continues to be a pressing matter for the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI, founded by Reverend Moon).
U.S. and allies press Afghanistan on Christian convert
By Paul Eckert, Asia Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and three NATO allies with troops in Afghanistan urged the Kabul government on Tuesday to respect the religious freedom of an Afghan convert to Christianity who faces the death penalty there.
The United States, which counts Afghan President Hamid Karzai as a key ally in the region, raised the case with visiting Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah, calling on Kabul to uphold Afghan citizens' constitutional right to choose their faith.
Denmark is determined to rebuild ties to its own Muslim population and to the greater Islamic world -- and may look to the United States as a model, Danish Ambassador Friis Arne Petersen said yesterday.
Denmark found itself at the center of a global firestorm after a local newspaper last fall printed a series of caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.
BETWEEN NUCLEAR weapons and mangoes, George W. Bush took an hour on Thursday after lunch to meet nine Indian men of faith in a closed-door meeting at the Maurya's Sky Lounge at which Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and US ambassador to India, David C. Mulford were silent spectators.
Arts in the Aftermath: The Role of Art and Artists in Creating a Culture of Peace in the Post 9/11 Era"
New Yorker Hotel, New York, NY
February 15, 2006
Artistic awareness, responsibility, inter-cultural understanding, respect, and self-governance were among the themes touched upon in a stimulating two-hour debate and dialogue, hosted by the IRFWP, and chaired masterfully by New York City Symphony music director David Eaton.
A Muslim leader in Ireland yesterday called for an end to the violence in protest at the printing of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in newspapers across Europe. Hundreds of Muslim took to the streets of Dublin to condemn the violence, which was sparked by the publication of the cartoons in a Danish newspaper.
World leaders were caught off guard by Muslim outrage over 12 cartoons that negatively depicted the Prophet Mohammed in the European press. A torrent of anger and protest has rocked Muslim countries from Indonesia to tiny Lebanon, at times turning violent.
We of the IRFWP extend our sincere condolences for the loss of the great civil rights champion Mrs. Coretta Scott King. This First Lady of the Civil Rights exemplified through her actions, ideals, and integrity the true heart of equality, peace, and world betterment. She joins her husband now, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the next life, and leaves behind four children as well as a world that will not forget the King legacy and what their victories have meant for all of humanity.
Washington, USA - Asserting that “the right to religious freedom is a foundation of America,” President Bush designated January 16 as Religious Freedom Day in a proclamation released by the White House January 13.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has urged the heads of 50 Muslim countries to work out a strategy for a Muslim renaissance. The Daily Times of Pakistan reports that Mr. Musharraf, who made the speech at the Third Extraordinary Summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Mecca, also called on Islamic countries to ban groups that preach violence or commit terrorist acts in the name of Islam.
Making 2006 the Year of Peace through Interfaith Action was the theme of a conference held at Cook College in Tempe Arizona on December 3rd. In attendance were 43 community leaders and Ambassadors for Peace. The keynote speech at lunch was given by Rev. Jannah Scott, the Faith Community Liaison for the State of Arizona.
Although the wind of Hurricane Wilma demolished the building that houses Unity of the Keys church on Flagler Avenue and sent the walls and facade crumbling in on themselves, the congregation of about 120 people has not missed a Sunday service.
Istanbul, Turkey - Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders meeting in Istanbul Monday said religious figures have an obligation to be the voice of conciliation and peace, and not to incite religious conflict.
The leaders met at the beginning of a three-day conference called Peace and Tolerance II, devoted to interreligious cooperation for peace in southeastern Europe, the Balkans and Central Asia - regions that have recently been rife with religious conflict.
Tsunami response shows respect for religion, Vatican officials say
This "surface" level of interreligious cooperation, in which urgent humanitarian need and related busy-ness to care for victims of natural disaster, suppresses or obscures unresolved, deep seated religious difference is a very good starting point for improving relations among major religious and ecclesiastical communities.
Here is an interesting development involving interreligious matters. Something worth keeping an eye on!
by Magdi Abdelhadi
Cairo, Egypt - An Islamist party in Egypt - which says a Christian can be head of state in a Muslim society - may become the country's first legal religious party before the end of the year, if a court rules in its favour.
Unlike the JP2 era, news of what the current Pope does surely will tend to be about intra-church affairs, rather than those of the church in the world. There are times when religions breathe out and times when they breathe in. This intra-Catholic encounter involves personages known enough to be of interest even beyond Catholic circles.
Religion: Musharraf stresses the need for an end to Inter-Faith friction
New York (AKI/DAWN) - Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf urged world governments to resolve long-standing disputes and ensure a just distribution of economic benefits if they wanted to fight extremism. “It is necessary to urgently resolve conflicts and disputes, especially where these involve friction between different religions and faiths, for example in Palestine and Kashmir,” he told an international conference in New York on Tuesday.
New Delhi, India - Platters of sweets and marigold garlands in hand, devotees thronged temples across the country on Saturday to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna.
Festivities began early at His birthplace Vrindavan with the deity being bathed in curd, milk, honey, khandsari (molasses) and turmeric to the chanting of Vedic hymns in the Dwarkadeesh temple. Thereafter it was shifted to Sri Krishna Janmasthan.
Paris, France - The stabbing of a 90-year-old monk would be extraordinary at any time. But Brother Roger, the founder of Taize who was killed on Tuesday, leaves a legacy which is felt in churches all over the world.
The influence of the Taize community on the church the UK and throughout the world has been pretty remarkable.
Washington, USA - America's scientists are a surprisingly spiritual group, according to a survey in which almost 70 percent agreed "there are basic truths" in religion, and 68 percent classified themselves as a "spiritual person."
World Culture and Sports Festival Succesfully Concludes
The past weeks have seen a flurry of interreligious and international peace activity in South Korea, including Seoul and Chonan. The World Culture and Sports Festival (July 23 - August 3) included the International Peace Sports Festival (IPSF) for over 1000 athletes representing religions from the world over. The IIFWP annual assembly (July 29 - August 2), gathered religious and political leaders under the banner “Establishing a Global Culture of Heart and a World of Lasting Peace”.
BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) - Ten days after Islamic radicals carried out deadly attacks on the London transport system, Britain's largest Sunni Muslim group on
Sunday issued a binding religious edict, a fatwa, condemning the July 7 suicide bombings as the work of a "perverted ideology."
All calls for Christian and/or religious unity, should include in the call an indication of what historical stumbling block to unity, hithertoo insisted upon by the "caller's" community, will now for the first time in history, be abandoned. -Frank Kaufmann
Romulo exhorts diplomats on peace, security promotion Arroyo cites peace as basic human need
UNITED NATIONS, New York City – Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo opened the United Nations Conference on Interfaith Cooperation for Peace last Wednesday, an unprecedented gathering of government officials, United Nations executives and civil society leaders to discuss the importance of interfaith dialogue and cooperation in the search for peace.
What does it mean to be a religious minority with a different faith to
that of the majority of people around you? What is the importance of
interreligious dialogue in situations of vulnerability? Is interreligious
dialogue an adequate response to a critical moment in the world?
Islamabad-A group of Kashmiri leaders from the India-controlled Kashmir Thursday arrived in Pakistan-administered Kashmir for talks to explore avenues for the settlement of the longstanding Kashmir dispute, the official PTV reported.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — The world’s biggest Muslim grouping, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, will be renamed and restructured to make it more progressive and to dispel the notion that Muslims support extremism, Malaysia said yesterday.
US$ 1 million to Islamic–Western peace building initiative
May 23 2005
Press Release - World Economic Forum
Dead Sea, Jordan - Leading Saudi businessman and the world’s fifth-wealthiest man, billionaire Prince Walid bin-Talal, is to donate US$ 1 million towards an Islamic-Western peace-building effort from the World Economic Forum's Council of 100 Leaders (C-100). The announcement was made by the Kingdom Holding Company’s CEO at the World Economic Forum in Jordan 2005 held at the Dead Sea.
The Vatican has conveyed its greetings to the Buddhists all over the world on the occasion of the holy month of Vesakh as per Indian lunar calendar and Saka as per Tibetan lunar calendar. The Pontifical Council for International Dialogue has issued a message on the official website of the Vatican
VATICAN CITY Pope Benedict XVI put his predecessor on the fast track for sainthood Friday and appointed San Francisco Archbishop William Levada as his successor as guardian of church doctrine, the highest Vatican office ever held by an American.
The IRFWP is happy to see the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. We pray for peace among all Lebanese communities, and the emergence of a peaceful and constructive political culture. We also pray that Syria and Lebanon build their future as friends around something far more noble than the shared enmity expressed in the article below.
Mention of religion is absent in this article, whereas "risk[ing] economic ties worth $212 billion in annual trade," is easily found. This orientation notwithstanding, the IRFWP hails the humility, and conciliatory and courageous sentiment and offering of Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi. We pray for successful meetings between between Messrs. Koizumi and Hu, and pray for ever more peaceful relations throughout Asia.
Again religion is not overtly mentioned in this article. Nevertheless all signs of thaw and collaboration on the Korean peninsula is happily welcomed. The nuclear threat is a great concern not just for Korea but for the world, more important though is the myriad blessings and abundance that will surely devolve from Korean unification.
Beijing, China - A spokesman from the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that citizens have the right to provide religious education for their children. At a regularly scheduled press briefing in Beijing, Liu Jianchao was asked about China's law and policy regarding religious belief and minors.
There is no greater challenge to religions and religious believers in the mondern age than to transcend obstacles and distance between religious and spiritual pursuit of truth, and its partner in truth-seeking, namely science.
Sir John Templeton, through "The Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities" is perhaps the greatest servant of this urgent need.
Charles Townes, the UC Berkeley professor who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics for his work in quantum electronics and then startled the scientific world by suggesting that religion and science were converging, was awarded the $1.5-million Templeton Prize on Wednesday for progress in spiritual knowledge.
The announcement for ceasing the practice of razing the homes of suicide bombers removes a significant stumbling block in efforts to bring peace to the Holy Land. We pray that peace prevails so that neither Israelis nor Palestinians will have to continue to live in a violent political, social, and military environment.
By Laura King, Times Staff Writer
Feb. 18, 2005
JERUSALEM — Israel announced Thursday that it was halting a practice particularly hated by Palestinians and repeatedly denounced by human rights groups: the demolition of the family homes of suicide bombers and other attackers.
We are delighted at the news that twin nuclear powers report that bilateral relations are "much better than [they have] been for a very long time," We pray that these natural brothers and cousins achieve productive collaboration which will benefit the entire sub-continent.
By UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL
Published February 13, 2005
MUNICH, Germany -- India and Pakistan have been improving their relations and communications with each other, India's national security adviser said Sunday.
Rice says time for Palestinians, Israel to seize "real chance"
We of the IRFWP applaud Prime Minister Abbas for having reached "a ceasefire deal with all Palestinian factions." Further we applaud Palestinian leaders of these important factions. We pray for success and continued restraint, and that root causes which inspired the pursuit of violent solutions dissolve before the onset of mutual respect and collaboration among all families in the Holy Land. We praise Secretary Rice for representing US offers of support for Palestinian people. We hope that US aid in the region evolves beyond military support.
RAMALLAH, Feb. 7 (Xinhuanet) -- Visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stressed on Monday that it is time for both the Palestinians and Israel to seize "a real chance" to move toward peace.
SANAA, YEMEN – When Judge Hamoud al-Hitar announced that he and four other Islamic scholars would challenge Yemen's Al Qaeda prisoners to a theological contest, Western antiterrorism experts warned that this high-stakes gamble would end in disaster.
Nervous as he faced five captured, yet defiant, Al Qaeda members in a Sanaa prison, Judge Hitar was inclined to agree. But banishing his doubts, the youthful cleric threw down the gauntlet, in the hope of bringing peace to his troubled homeland.
The IRFWP is greatly encouraged by the public announcement of a ceasefire by Palestinian President Abbas and pray for ongoing progress toward peace in the Holy Land. We are further encouraged that this announcement does not come in a vacuum, but rather in the context of ongoing dialogue between Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Mohammed Dahlan, the former Palestinian security minister. We urge all religious leaders and believers to pray for the success of upcoming meetings among Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Further we pray for and encourage the establishment and development of projects and initiatives which allow Israeli-Palestinian cooperation at all levels of society and culture.
Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- The Palestinians will call a cease-fire in hostilities with Israel when the two sides meet next week for peace talks in Egypt, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said today.
The IRFWP applauds Iyad Allawi for his express intent to create a national dialogue to promote harmony and cooperation among Iraq's diverse religious and ethnic groups. We urge all religions and religious leaders both in Iraq and intertnationally to substantially support the noble hopes expressed honorably and in so timely a manner by Iraq's Interim Prime Minister.
Mon, Jan 31, 2005
By Luke Baker
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's interim prime minister vowed Monday to unite the country's competing ethnic and religious groups, a day after millions of voters defied insurgents to vote in a historic election.
The IRFWP prays that conditions for the withdrawal of Israeli security forces from "Arab cities" in the West Bank can be maintained successfully and for the long term. It is our hope that Arab and Israeli young people in Israel and Palestine encounter one another in amicable circumstances absent military and security needs. We are especially hopeful should conditions result in the lifting of travel restrictions within and between Palestinian territiories, as this latter hope has an impact on religious and spiritual life, and freedom for worship and religious responsibilities.
Mon, Jan 31, 2005
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz announced on Sunday that several Arab cities in the occupied West Bank could be returned to the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the near future.
Israel Says West Bank Troop Pullback Possible Soon
Jan. 30, 2005
By Jeffrey Heller
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel is likely to pull back its troops from several West Bank cities within days, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Sunday, in a further sign of cooperation with a new Palestinian leadership.
"I think there is an opportunity to create a new reality," Mofaz told Israel Radio after talks late Saturday with Palestinian official Mohammed Dahlan, a former Gaza security chief, on confidence-building steps.
By Daniel ben-Simon
Outside View Commentator
Published January 22, 2005
BRUSSELS -- A few minutes before Europe observed three minutes of silence on Jan. 9 in memory of the tsunami victims, Jewish and Muslim clergy who had convened at Egmont Palace decided to join them. Two days earlier, the clergy had come together to seek means of greater involvement for religion to help quiet the bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
At exactly noon, all the participants got to their feet around the tables in the magnificent conference hall. Rabbis and imams, along with several Christian clerics, stood side by side and bowed their heads in utter silence.
Israeli and Palestinian Leaders Agree to Peace Talks
Jan. 11th, 2005
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called Mahmoud Abbas today to congratulate him on winning the Palestinian presidential election, the latest sign that the two sides are eager to restart peace efforts after years of stalemate.
Since Abbas’ landslide victory on Sunday, Israel and the Palestinians have signalled their readiness to return to the negotiating table. The election, along with the formation of a new Israeli government that includes the dovish Labour Party, have raised hopes around the world that talks might soon resume.
Sudan Peace Agreement Welcomed by Major Aid Groups
"Peace is about more than a piece of paper it is about a process which must involve civil society organisations and communities."
An historical peace agreement was signed in Nairobi, Kenya, on Sunday 9th January between the country's main rebel group the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Government of Sudan. It is expected to mark the ending of the 21 devastating years of war that claimed at least 1.5 million lives and displaced another four million people.
Colorado Springs, Colorado-- On today's national "Focus on the Family" broadcast, Focus founder and chairman Dr. James Dobson announced the organization's plans to join the tsunami effort. Capitalizing on its unique ability to understand and meet the needs of families worldwide, Focus hopes to raise one million dollars for relief efforts and will provide extensive grief, counseling and family resources for survivors.
BRIARCLIFF MANOR —In a sign of unity, a small group of people from different religions gathered at the Scarborough Presbyterian Church yesterday to remember the tragic events of last week's tsunami in South Asia and to collectively pray for the victims and their families.
About 20 people formed a circle of prayer in the church's chancel, offering up their heartfelt condolences and concerns for the people affected by the disaster.
JERUSALEM (Reuters)- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reached a deal with Shimon Peres on Thursday to name the opposition leader his senior deputy, clearing a key obstacle to a unity government able to abandon the occupied Gaza Strip.
Sharon Predicts 'Breakthrough' in Ties With Palestinians
By Steven Erlanger
HERZLIYA, Israel, Dec. 16 - Next year could bring a "historic breakthrough" in Israel's relations with the Palestinians, a buoyant Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel said today, insisting that his plan to pull out of Gaza had united the country, even if it had divided his own party.
Syria willing to negotiate with Israel, UN envoy says
24 November 2004 – Syria is willing to negotiate a peace deal with Israel without conditions, the United Nations envoy for the Middle East said today.
The comments by Terje Roed-Larsen, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, came after a 90-minute meeting in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that the UN envoy described as "warm, creative and constructive."
The Reception of the IRFWP at the 2004 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion in San Antonio
Scholars of Religion were treated this week to time in the lovely city of San Antonio. The AAR continues its superior tradition of conference organization, and the town showed itself to be exceptionally well suited to host the 1000’s of guests in attendance. The enchanting Riverwalk, the natural synergy between hotels and housing and the ample facilities of the easily accessible convention center, and finally a great tradition of conference services have all mixed to make a splendid environment for the week of important (if occasionally esoteric) business at hand. Apart from the habit of convention and tourist destinations to find a way to convert every tiny need into another buck out of your pocket, San Antonio is a pleasant venue indeed.
On November 8th 2004 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution promoting Interreligious Dialogue. In it they affirm that Interreligious Dialogue constitutes an important dimension of dialogue among civilizations and of the culture of peace. It calls on the interfaith community and the relevant United Nations bodies work together closely.
Surely intense emotions will characterize reportage on the passing of Chairman Arafat. Judith Miller of the New York Times seems successfully to have navigated away from the extremes, in a first, historical overview of Arafat’s public career.
A police anti-terror operation in The Hague has ended with the arrest of two suspects after a violent 14-hour siege, Dutch officials say.
Three police officers were wounded in a grenade explosion earlier during the raid. Two of them remain in hospital.
Recommendations offered in response to some key problems raised.
By Hod Ben Zvi, Secretary General IIFWP, Israel, Tal Zorer and Frank Kaufmann.
The distinguished participants from several Middle Eastern countries have engaged in a serious discussion regarding the major problems and obstacles to the attainment of peace between Palestine and Israel.
From September 21 – 24, 2004 the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace, and the Interreligious and International Peace Council sponsored its first ever “International Peace Conference for Mongolian Leaders from Around the World.” The subtitle of the conference was “Establishing a World Culture of Heart and Lasting Peace: The Significance of Mongolian History, Culture, and Family Tradition.”
Dialogue and Alliance Joined the ATLA Serials collection
Dialogue and Alliance has joined the American Theological Library Association’s (ATLA) online full-text journal collection (ATLASerials). Dialogue and Alliance is one of 650 Religious and theological journals, that were considered by the ecumenical clergy focus group organized by the Indianapolis Center of Congregations. It was one of the top ten choices and was thereby invited to join the new ATLASerials collection.
The Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP) just finished its Assembly 2004 (Seoul, Korea, July 23 – 27, 2004). It was a stellar event proving to exceed our best expectations. As always (for the last 10 years) the IIFWP (and the IRFWP before that) holds its annual Assembly in the context of the World Culture and Sports Festival (WCSF). IIFWP Report
It is a typical scene. Two friends in their early twenties are sitting at a coffee shop, drinking beverages while talking and laughing over inside jokes and events from the previous night. No bystander would have the slightest notion that Laila Najjar, a Palestinian Muslim, and Adi Frish, an Israeli Jew, should be mortal enemies.
Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom (IPC)
Washington, D.C. – Registration is now available for the Second Session of the Interparliamentary Conference on Human Rights and Religious Freedom (IPC), which will take place in Brussels from August 5 through August 7, 2004.
The 10th Israeli-Palestinian conference organized by the Interfaith
Encounter Association and the Nablus Youth Federation and sponsored by the
European Union, took place under the title "Moses and Muhammad" between
27-29 May 2004, with some fifty people at the Guest House of Neve Shalom.
Prof. Martin Forward, the executive Director of the Wackerlin Center for Faith and Action is informing us of the upcoming conference of his institute and the talk to be given by Professor Ursula King on the topic "What Can Women Do For Religion: Faith, Feminism and Human Flourishing?"
The Middle East Peace Initiative [MEPI] is an ongoing effort by the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace [IIFWP] to support the peace process in the Middle East. During 2003, MEPI sponsored more than 20 projects and programs in Israel, Palestine, and around the world.around the world.
We received this contribution from a friend. It is a report of an interreligious trip to Baghdad. In the spirit of reconciliation they journeyed there to bring peace to the troubled region. We would like to share this inspiring report with you.
Junsei Terasawa, a Buddhist monk from Japan, is leading a group of 12 members on a Peace Mission Journey. After completing public events of Goodwill in Geneva, London and Brussels in February this year the Journey will start in Moscow and Kiev going further east to both halves of the Korean Peninsula. This initiative is aimed at creating an international and interreligious civic response to the crises on the Korean Peninsula.
1st annual Interreligious Peace Sports Festival 2003
In July 2003 Athletes from different nations and different religions came together in Korea to compete in Sports and celebrate the first Interreligious Peace Sports Festival. The Motto of the IPSF was "Creating an Environment of Peace through Sports". Amongst other sports the IPSF included basketball, track and field, badmington, table tennis, tennis and soccer.
For further information please look into the Brochure.
This Year the IPSF will take place under the motto: "promoting character, cooperation and excellence in sports". For further information please visit their homepage: www.ipsfestival.org Brochure
Recent months have seen rapid development and change in Dr. Moon's orientation toward addressing world problems. A number of major world leaders have collaborated with these developments at one point or another in the process.
This short explanation is meant to put some of these changes and developments in perspective.