Inter-Religious and Inter- Cultural Dialogue for Peace and Harmony
St. Andrew’s College, Bandra
In the year of our initiation our symposium was on the theme on Inter-Religious and Inter-Cultural Dialogue for Peace and Harmony. Msgr. Nereus gave the welcome address, introduced the Chair and gave the background of the Chair. He remarked, “We turn to religion to seek God, to seek peace, to praise and worship God and to shower him with thanks, and yet religion is blamed for violence and war. We succeeded in demolishing the Berlin wall, we can peep through the Chinese bamboo curtain but we have yet to develop an appreciation of religion as varied expression of the human response to the ultimate.
This was followed by the Presidential address His Eminence, Oswald Cardinal Gracias lay emphasis on the present world and the national scenario that affected peace and harmony and the only solution that was the world’s great religions need to work together to eliminate the social and cultural causes of terrorism. He emphasized that “Terrorism is a major challenge to civilized society today”. He also indicated the urgent need for Inter-Religious and Inter-Cultural dialogue in a world that is becoming increasingly multi-cultural and multi-religious. He highlighted that “in order to establish peace and harmony, it is important to understand religions and cultures. Study reflection and constant interaction with believers of different cultures and religions can facilitate initiatives that promote peace and harmony.” He concluded with the idea that humanity needs peace. In the words of Pope John Paul II chanted at Assisi, “Violence never again! In God’s name, may all religions bring upon earth – justice and peace, forgiveness, life and love!”
This was followed by a scholarly Keynote address by, His Eminence, Paul Cardinal Poupard himself. He enunciated the idea that culture, as well as our religious beliefs and practices are learned through a process of socialization and that to encourage this a “culture of values need to be embedded in the very organizational structures of society. His significant concluding idea was that to establish lasting peace in the world, justice must find its fulfillment in love. He lastly indicated that for only where a ‘civilizations of love’ reigns can an authentic and a lasting peace and harmony prevail. Followed was the release of the journal ‘Ethics and Society: An International Journal Religions and Cultures for Peace and Harmony’. After this the students sang some patriotic songs, performed folk dances and a fusion of music of both the western and eastern cultures. Our other speakers spoke on enlightening topics on how religion and culture can foster peace and harmony. Mr. Ahmed Sheik shared an “Islamic Perspective on. Swami Nikileshwarand shared a Hindu perspective with the similar insights based on the symposium’s theme. Lastly the Principal concluded with the Vote of Thanks. The students sang the national anthem to conclude the grand event.