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Interfaith dialogue must foster peace

Forum says unity between religions can be forged by differences

Interfaith forum organized yesterday by Sant'Egidio in Jakarta Interfaith forum organized yesterday by Sant'Egidio in Jakarta
  • Ryan Dagur, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • April 24, 2012
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The governments of Indonesia and Italy say they are committed to taking interfaith dialogue to a higher level, with the aim of fostering global peace and respect for minority groups.

This was the message from the foreign ministers of the two countries at the opening of an interfaith forum yesterday in Jakarta.

Indonesia foreign minister Marty M. Natalegawa said that building bridges of mutual understanding is the best way to foster a global culture of peace.

“Message of peace in interfaith dialogue must echo outside assembly halls,” he said.

Italian foreign minister Guilio Terzi, agreed saying that interfaith dialogue must ensure protection for minority groups.

Government must reach out at the grass roots level and religious leaders must help promote respect towards different religious beliefs, Terzi said.

The forum called Unity in Diversity: The Power of Dialogue for Peaceful Cohabitation in a Pluralistic Society was organized by the Community of Saint’Egidio in cooperation with foreign ministries of the two countries.

The Community of Saint’Egidio is a “Church public lay association.”

The first interfaith forum between Indonesia and Italy was held in Rome in March 2009.

Participants in yesterday’s dialogue included Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta, Din Syamsuddin, chairman of Indonesia’s largest Islamic group Muhammadiah, and Sant’Egidio president Marco Impagliazzo.

“Discussions, seminars and talk shows are not enough. We must also take part and support all initiatives which promote dialogue,” Archbishop Suharyo said.

Impagliazzo said Saint’Egidio is committed to building peace with other religions in Indonesia.

“Ethnic, religious even linguistic differences are not considered an obstacle to unity,” he said.

On the contrary, they have become the common ground of an inclusive national ideology that emphasizes the value of living together in unity and diversity, he added.



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