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World’s Top Religious Leaders Issue Joint Appeal

By Charlotte Wigram-Evans  /  June 21, 2017;

Photo : screengrab

Twenty two of the world’s most prominent religious leaders came together on June 14 to make a plea to all of humanity. The message was simple — make friends with people of other faiths.

From His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to Pope Francis, to senior Shia Muslim cleric Ayatollah Sayyid Fadhel Al-Milani, the video recording shows a huge range of faiths from across the globe, refuting the common perception that religion divides rather than unites.

In his speech, His Holiness the Dalai Lama emphasised the importance of personal relationships in developing one’s understanding of the world. He stated: “Personal contact, personal friendship, then we can exchange a deeper level of experience.”

He was joined by another Tibetan Buddhist, Ven Khandro Rinpoche, a female lama, chosen in her home in Kalimpong, India at the age of two as the reincarnation of one of the best-known female masters of the age. She said simply: “Its time to speak less, listen more.”

Photo : screengrab

Elsewhere in India, Mata Amritanandamayi, a Hindu spiritual leader and guru who was born in Kerala and is revered as a saint by her followers, also said her piece. In a moving statement she prayed that universal friendship become a reality.

Pope Francis in turn spoke of his longstanding friendship with prominent Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka who also appeared in the video, stating: “My religious life became richer with his explanations, so much richer, and I guess the same happened for him.”

The calls come as part of a global campaign, organised by the Elijah Interfaith Institute based in Israel and the United States. The organisation’s mission is to counter the view that different religions should be distrusted or looked down upon.

This notion goes way back, often to religious scripts themselves, and is an issue that was addressed by Rabbi Dr Alon Goshen-Gottstein, the Elijah Interfaith Institute’s director:“We cannot deny that in the books of many religions you can find texts that are not very open, even hostile, to people of other faiths,” he said in a statement. “Therefore, when the world’s most important leaders call for friendship, they are in fact affirming a particular way of practicing religion and rejecting another”.

Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Christianity were represented in the call to action; powerful religions that underpin many societies across the globe. The hope now is that they will listen.

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