CBCP, UST, Iranian embassy hold interreligious dialogue confab

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MANILA, May 1, 2015 – Several prominent offices and institutions came together to hold the International Conference on Interreligious Dialogue with the theme “The Approach of Islam and Christianity Towards Religious Extremism and Violence,” which was held at the Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. building of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) from April 29 to 30.

r. Albert Alejo, SJ, Board Chair of the Philippine Jesuit Refugee Service gives his input during the International Conference on Interreligious Dialogue on April 29 to 30, 2015. (Photo: Vanessa Puno)

The international event was jointly organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) – Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue; Cultural Section, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Center for Interreligious Dialogue and Civilization – Iran; and the UST Institute of Religion through its Professional Advancement and Research Committee.

During the event, Asst. Prof. Val G. Brillo of UST Institute of Religion and Russell Berrie Fellow, Interreligious and Ecumenical Dialogue underscored the social and political preconditions and precipitants of terrorism, such as modernization and political discrimination.

In an interview with CBCP News, Fr. Albert Alejo, SJ, Board Chair of the Philippine Jesuit Refugee Service, said infographics on hot-button issues should be created to better understand history. “Right now, in many forum about BBL, Mamasapano, usually the problem is people do not understand history. But what we have done to make people understand history? Now is the time for infographics [on topics] such as on climate change, social entrepreneurship, and road map to peace as examples.”

Alejo presented  different kinds of timeline, saying, “My proposal is a multilayer Mindanao timeline, political history, economic history, socio-cultural history and ecological history, which is a way to transform and revisit Philippine history.”

Ali Asghar Mohammadi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Manila, in his inspirational message, discussed the core religious precepts and divine values for the realization of interreligious dialogue.

Prof. Rasoul Rasoulipour, High Consultant, Center for Interreligious Dialogue and Civilization and Head of the Department of Theology, Shahid Motahari University, Tehran in Iran, in his message said people of good will adhere to rational principles, an understanding of social values and social life that would lead the communities “living rationally”. He also said there should be a way to “measure’ in order to interpret religious text, such that there will be a common understanding for all, which could pave the way to peace.

Prof. Bagher Talebi Darabi emphasized the acceptance of diversity as the foundation of interreligious dialogue. He also said good relations with others are built when there is respect. Darabi also said there are various challenges to a global dialogue such as universal human rights, global ethics, and universal spirituality, which lead to a separate discourse, not only religious but also secular. He noted how secular issues need to be integrated into interreligious dialogue.

Dr. Seyed  Hashem Moosavi, Director, Strategic Studies of the University of Al Mostafe, Iran, meanwhile, stressed that religious leaders have a role to pave the way for peace and understanding through interreligious dialogue. (Vanessa M. Puno/ CBCP News)

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