Asia Pacific wants to end to interfaith conflicts
THE SUNDAY TIMES, March 19, 2006  
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CEBU CITY: Religious leaders from 15 countries in the Asia Pacific have called for an end to interfaith conflicts while promoting dialogues and tolerance among religious groups.


The leaders also discussed the role of interfaith dialogue and cooperation in dissociating religion from terrorism in the face of terrorist threats sparked by religious differences.


The gathering called on the media to exercise their freedom with responsibility, following the conflicts triggered by the anti-Muslim Danish publication.


The group signed and adopted a two-page Declaration of the Cebu Dialogue on Regional Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, Development and Human Dignity on Thursday at the Shangrila's Mactan Island Resort in Lapu-Lapu City.


Representatives from the 15 participating countries pledged their commitment to the declaration and in implementing the plans of action in the document.


Reaching out to each other

Bishop Ephraim Tendero, a member of the Philippine Interfaith Commission, said the declaration is a comprehensive statement that sums up each counrty's aspirations in ensuring peace and security region.


"It calls for better understanding among religious groups. While we relate with one another, we don't compromise our distinct beliefs, yet we try to reach out to each other and have better appreciation of one another", he said.


The three-day dialogue focused on four themes: interfaith cooperation for regional peace and security; human dignity, development and interfaith cooperation; and the role of education and the media in promoting interfaith cooperation.


The delegates also declared to: The declaration


  • Call on the government to uphold the freedom of religion in ways that will encourage interfaith dialogue;

  • Call for increased partnership between governments and religious groups in addressing violence and all forms of terror and in working for peace, development and human dignity;

  • Call on religious groups to develop internal mechanisms for responding to violence and intolerance against other religious communities;

  • Undertake cooperative efforts to help one another in times of natural disasters; and

  • Promote interfaith dialogues at the grassroots.