By Adam Alqali
World religious leaders from across different faiths have called for dialogue towards peaceful coexistence among followers of various religions of the world. This call was made by religious leaders at the just concluded 3-day inter-religious peace meeting held between September 18 and 20 at Assisi, Italy.
This year’s event themed: “Thirst for Peace. Religions and Cultures in Dialogue” was organized by the Community of Sant Egidio, an ecumenical movement building bridges of understanding between cultures, religions and races.
The conference which was initiated by Pope John Paul II in 1986 had in attendance the Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis, as well as over five hundred political, religious and traditional leaders from different parts of the world.
Speaking at the conference’s opening ceremony, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, Andrea Riccardi said dialogue was something humanity needed to face more than anything else, adding that the alternative was “too horrifying even to conceive”.
Riccardi, who said no power, could hold together a world so fragmented and complex, however, added that there was the need for a global and ecumenical vision and the awareness that “we all belong to the same creator.”
“The art of dialogue becomes paramount to unite and bridge gaps, to illuminate what is shared and give value to what is different,” he said.
In a message to the coneference, the Political Advisor to the Grand Mufti of Lebanon, Mohammad Sammak said the relationship between people of different religion cannot be based on supremacy but on the belief of pluralism, diversity and respect for the ideological foundation of all.
A four-man Nigerian delegation headed by the Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, and had as members, the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria and Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Kaigama and the Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah, also participated at the conference.
At the event, Cardinal John Onaiyekan spoke on the theme “Terrorism Denies God” and both the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, and the Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Kaigama spoke on the “Challenges of Global Africa” while Bishop Matthew Kukah spoke on “Christians and Muslims to the Test of Co-existence”.
A similar event with political, religious and traditional leaders would be organized next week Wednesday by Sant’Egidio community in Nigeria at Abuja, the Nigerian capital, according to press statement signed by Prince Henry Ezike, Country Representative of the Community of Sant’Egidio in Nigeria.