In recognition of South America’s key role in the battle for the world’s clean air and water, clergy and ethnic leaders at Universal Peace Federation’s 2018 Brazil Summit signed on to a new association dedicated to prudent development: the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development (IAPD). The global effort to coalesce religious leaders of major faith groups was launched in Seoul, Korea November 2017.
Qarash Flix Daz, president of the Consultative and Participative Council of Indigenous Peoples of the Argentine Republic, spoke of the worldview of the indigenous peoples he represents in his country, specifically the Qom community of South America’s Chaco region.
“Our parents bequeathed us their love,” he said. “That is why our existence is closely linked to our ancestral territories. These physical spaces are those that make their own balance in each living being. That is why you have peace with nature itself. There is life and hope for a better and more encouraging future for our future generations,” he said.
He described his gods and the close relationship of his community with Mother Earth. “It is not good to leave a contaminated environment, because there will be no future,” he said. For this purpose, he advocated a dialogue between peoples of different cultures.
Words of congratulations also were offered by Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, the international vice president and the regional chair for the United States and Canada, of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), an organization that is affiliated with UPF. Also commending the start of the IAPD in Latin America were Cardinal Kelvin Felix, the Roman Catholic archbishop emeritus of Castries, Saint Lucia, and Rev. Hyun Young Lee, president of the Korea Religions Association.
Rev. Dr. Guillermo Osorno, minister of the Assembly of God and former president of the National Council of Pastors of Nicaragua, gave a presentation on the theme of being united in our desire for peace and development. “Our differences do not divide us, they enrich us,” he said. Reverend Osorno said we should transcend our differences and find ways to work together for the common good of society. To achieve this goal, he emphasized the importance of “fluid communication,” the ability to listen and the interaction of different creeds.
Imam Muhammed Shafiqul Islam, imam of the Masjid-As-Salaam Mosque of Jamaica, said that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) traveled a lot and quickly because there were no immigration laws or other requirements to deal with. The world was not segregated or divided into migrants or refugees as it is today; we were all part of the human race, he said. The imam spoke of the plight of refugees, of those who drown in the Mediterranean Sea, and urged leaders to work on prevention, not on symptoms. He regretted that “today there is no peace,” but stated that “everyone wants to live in peace” and that “peace is our birthright.”
The session concluded with the reading, by UPF Chair Dr. Thomas Walsh, of the inaugural declaration of the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development of Latin America and the Caribbean. Dr. Walsh was accompanied by Rev. Dong Mo Shin and Dr. Charles Yang, the UPF regional directors of South America, and Central America and the Caribbean, respectively, and the speakers of the interreligious panel, who signed the declaration. All the summit participants were also invited to do the same.
The declaration begins with the statement: “We, participants of the Inaugural Assembly of the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development (IAPD), affirm the unique and essential role that religions are called to play in the realization of a world of lasting peace, a world in which people can live together in peace, mutual prosperity, interdependence, harmony and cooperation, as a family under God, in accordance with universal values.”
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