Religious, civil society groups urge NAM to resolve nine important issues

March 16, 2010 10:34 pm 

MANILA, March 16 –- The civil society and religious organizations urged on Tuesday the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) member-countries to resolve nine important issues that would promote deeper collaborations with the different governments in achieving lasting peace and development.

The representatives of the faith-based groups and civil society made the recommendations and suggestions during the International Workshop of Faith-Based Groups and Civil Society (IWFC) of the Special Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development (SNAMMM) on Tuesday at the Philippine International Convention Center here.

”We noted and deliberated on the issues and challenges confronting approaches to interfaith dialogue and cooperation and found common ground to address them through stronger collaboration with the governments,” the group said in an statement to be submitted to SNAMMM.

Bishop Fernando Capalla, chief convenor of the Bishops and Ulama Conference (BUC), identified the nine important suggestions and recommendations which will be submitted for deliberation in the ministerial meeting starting on Wednesday.

Among the inputs of the religious and civil societies include:

–Encourage and assist faith-based and other community-based groups to engage in dialogue-meetings and inter-faith activities;

–Participate in the dialogue of life and action in areas that are deeply held and widely shared;

–Prepare a new generation of leaders among our youth that can view religious traditions as resources for peace and development by actively supporting existing programs and developing new initiatives;

–Encourage intra-faith dialogue in each country according to their respective religious traditions;

–Promote religious freedom of any individual or community as a basic human right;

–Provide special attention to education on interfaith dialogue and cooperation as an important element for peace and development, and that this be started in the formative years, using among others, sports and cultural activities;

–Recognize the importance of engaging the media in communication the positive messages of interfaith dialogue and cooperation;

–Advance shared security through peaceful and pro-active approaches to development, giving proper attention to the voice of the poor and the indigenous peoples; respect for minorities; and vigilance over those who are in power; and,

–Strengthen a “focal unit” in the United Nations that shall facilitate and coordinate interfaith initiatives of member countries.

”We noted that the way to peace is not at the end of a gun nor simply across the negotiating table. What is needed is a deeper appreciation for the spiritual bases for peace in all our religious traditions,” the statement explained.

For his part, Capalla said it is important to heal the wounds of the people who have experienced wars and conflicts not only through infrastructure projects but full attention coming from the government.

”Peace and development are not clear to many. There also things that should be the done like the healing of the wounds the people have experienced because of wars. There is a need for social healing,” Capalla said.

”The real meaning of peace is the holding of the integrity of the human persons in the community and this has not been discussed among the peace advocates,” he added.

Capalla further said the church is doing its share by helping the victims of wars and conflicts through total human development and wholesome ways of understanding the meaning peace.

”Peace begins from the heart. The peace of the heart is the heart of peace,” the bishop added.

Capalla said the church also helps in achieving peace and order whenever wars break out in Mindanao through experts from schools and churches who assist those in the evacuation centers.

”The healing of the wounds can only be done by repentance and forgiveness which is taught by the books of the Koran and Bible. That is our contribution to the government,” Capalla said.

Upon the initiative of the Philippines, this is the first time that the NAM is holding a parallel civil society event on the subject of interfaith dialogue.

Over 120 delegations from 118 NAM member states are attending the SNAMMM, headed by Ministers and Special Envoys. (PNA) V3/jfm

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