World Interfaith Harmony Forum at the UN General Assembly

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Caritas Internationalis has been part of the high-level civil society and NGO coordination to develop the annual World Interfaith Harmony Week in cooperation with the president of the UN General Assembly.

The week concluded with GA President Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser’s invitation to the more than 900 participants at UN Headquarters. “We recognize and celebrate the values that are shared across religious traditions,” said Mr. Al-Nasser. “The common principles form a common ground that unites us in our rich diversity,”

He announced that he will on 22 March convene a one-day thematic debate in the Assembly on “fostering cross-cultural understanding for building peaceful and inclusive societies,” which, he said, will draw on the discussions at last year’s 4th Forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations in Doha, Qatar.

UN Deputy Secretary-General, Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro encouraged all present to assume their respective responsibilities. “Only by finding common cause in mutual respect for shared spiritual and moral values can we hope for harmony among nations and peoples,” she said.

Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, noted the compassion and dignity with which Catholic organisations and others bring to communities around the world. Not to empathize numbers or the magnitude of humanitarian responses but rather to underscore our common goal, to protect people everywhere, to expand human security and build peace across borders and barriers.

Speakers representing world religions, indigenous and national traditions added voices and commitments from UNESCO, UN Alliance of Civilizations, Religions for Peace, SRICAITNAYA, Guru Namak Nishkam, American Jewish Committee-Interreligious Affairs, Cordoba Initiative, Goi Peace Foundation, Catholic Relief Services, Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, Won Buddhism, Universal Peace Foundation, Committee of Religious NGOs, Civicus and many more.

The search for peace, the opening of greater understanding and respect for all – these are quintessential dimensions for all paths to interfaith harmony, reconciliation, restoration and justice. Without careful dialog and mediation, our world remains terribly vulnerable.

UN General Assembly President declared today’s gathering an historic event. It brought into international public focus the long, yearning call initiated many years ago by the King of Jordan to promote the vital role of religion in society and in the world. As the Children’s Theatre Company, with youth from ages 5 to 20, brought the entire assembly into a near riveting silence with their rendition of ‘Our World’, all present understood without explanation in the closing moments that our work is now – so their future is vibrant tomorrow!