European Interreligious Forum For Religious Freedom

Summary of the conference Religions, Scriptures and Interreligious Dialogue

Written the Tuesday, June 12th 2018 à 17:51

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On Saturday May 5, the European Interreligious Forum for Religious Freedom organized a conference called: “Religions, Scriptures and Interreligious Dialogue - Is interreligious dialogue part of your religious duties, and what can it do for peace?” 
The conference was hosted by the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights.
In front of a very attentive audience, several religious leaders developed on the scriptural roots of interreligious dialogue, and brought the public to the realization that a strong faith and a strong commitment to its own religion does not and should never lead to the reject of others. To the opposite, the understanding of the scriptures leads to the willingness to share, to exchange and to understand others with respect and affinity.
Father Stan Nwaigwe, a Catholic priest from the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, started by quoting the bible. Then commenting on the Acts of Apostles 10, and the Gospel of St. John, he said: “The essential element of the Word of God, which Jesus has accomplished can also be recognized outside the Christian-fold. To assume otherwise is to underestimate and diminish the universal scope of Christ's power. Besides, we only contradict ourselves to assume that God who is almighty could not make Godself known in forms incomprehensible to us. In a nutshell, there is no contradiction in the Christian bible about the plurality of the way to God. By recognizing that God has no room for favoritism, the bible recognizes religious practice outside Christianity.” He concluded by stressing the importance of interreligious dialogue in order to create harmonious relationships between people.
Then Mr. Manik Paul, an activist of interfaith and intercultural dialogue promotion, honorary President of the Hindu Forum of Belgium, explained how Hinduism is the source of a natural trend to practice interreligious dialogue: “Today, I feel myself fortunate enough to be the part of this conference as a speaker to highlight on the issue of interreligious dialogue from my Hindu perspective. In this connection I owe my gratitude to the members of the Church of Scientology. Any great civilization is a product of diversity. It is able to bring together many different views and practices in science, religion, art and culture as well as embrace various racial, ethnic, and linguistic groups. It also has a long sense of history and can integrate within itself many different historical currents. A culture where everyone must have the same beliefs and follow the same practices is not a true culture and it denies the human spirit that always seeks to grow and express itself in a variety of ways. My value system thought to acknowledge religious plurality and inclusive secularism. Still I can remember the advice of the great Indian saint Sri Ramakrishna – “as you remain firm in your own faith and opinion, so leave the others the same freedom to remain firm in their faiths and opinions.” That was the first lesson in my life to understand pluralism and the imperativeness for respecting all other traditions and religions.”
Third Speaker, Father Petar Gramatikov, Hierodeacon of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, in a speech that he entitled “The Power of Love Must Defeat the Love of Power”, commented on words from St. Luke Voyno-Yasenetsky, Archbishop of Crimea and Simferopol in the middle of the 20th Century, and declared: “In its depth the opposite of peace is not war, but self-centered - personal, collective, national, tribal, religious. It generates the various forms of violence that kill peace in different ways.
The antidote to egocentrism is not the vague moral appeals, nor the legal formalities and mechanisms for their application. But it is necessary to strengthen an active and multidimensional love that is not limited to its own national borders, prejudice and discrimination. Here lies the great opportunity and responsibility of people with a strong religious consciousness. Even in the face of long-standing conflicts, it enables forgiveness and reconciliation. The strength and power of love must and can defeat the love for the power that destroys peace.
The last speaker, Reverend Eric Roux from the Church of Scientology, concluded his speech with these words: “why Dialogue is so important? Dialogue, when well conducted is communication. Communication will create more affinity, more reality. Communication will create understanding. And when you understand your fellow, war is over. Actually, if you understand each other before war happens, there will never be any war. And if you continue to create this dialogue, there will be no space for misunderstanding, and the efforts of the ones who seek to create war will be useless, as the understanding will be so strong that any effort to undermine it will vanish. Of course today, in several situations, we are late at creating this understanding. But that does not mean that we do not need to catch up for lost time. Interreligious dialogue is a needed and effective way to contribute to a world without war, and the strength of religions lies in their willingness to engage in communication and to put their wisdom to the service of humanity.”
The conference concluded with a Q&A that allowed the attendees to ask their questions to the speakers, and the speakers to develop on specific points that had retained the attention of the attendees.

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