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Religions should be humble and reflect

Leading clerics says recognizing own faults can help spur dialogue, create religious harmony

The Presidential Committee on Social Cohesion held its meeting at the Press Center The Presidential Committee on Social Cohesion held its meeting at the Press Center
  • Stephen Hong, Seoul
  • Korea
  • May 17, 2011
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A meeting today between the country’s main religious leaders has concluded that in a modern pluralistic society, every religion should have a humble and self-reflective attitude that admits "my truth might be wrong."

The meeting, entitled “Seven Religions' Dialogue for Mutual Harmony," was held at the Press Center in Seoul and organized by the Presidential Committee on Social Cohesion.

Representatives from Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Protestantism, an association of Korean traditional religions, and Chondogyo and Won Buddhism, were all at the meeting.

During the opening speech, Song Suk-ku, the committee chairman, said he hoped dialogue could be the starting point to build social harmony through mutual understanding.

In the keynote speech, Keel Hee-sung, emeritus professor at Jesuit-run Sogang University, said that truth itself is absolute and eternal but human knowledge which understands it is relative and limited.

Therefore, he argued religions should acknowledge such human limitations and have a humble and self-reflective attitude to proceed with real religious dialogue and creative development.

The Protestant professor also noted a lack of basic values in Korean society has led to recent religious conflicts, such as the desecration of Buddhist statues, and appealed to every religion to respect basic values of democracy.

When religions meet such conditions, Keel said, they can start real religious dialogue.

Father John Kim Hong-jin of Seoul archdiocese, said even though every religion's doctrines and beliefs are different, religious people should respect and care for others to build a harmonious community.

Reverend Lee Jung-bae, professor of religious philosophy at the Methodist Theological University, asked all religions to have a self-critical attitude to avoid ideological disputes.

And Buddhist representative, Venerable Junggak, professor of Buddhism at Dongguk University, suggested a more pragmatic approach with concrete agreements resulting from inter-religious dialogue, instead of "empty words."

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