to the interreligious
Harmony among different religions is essential for world peace. In order to develop genuine harmony, it is extremely important that we cultivate genuine respect for one another. We need to encourage a worldwide sense of pluralism among religions. Religious differences should not be the grounds for antagonism. Religion should be the basis for friendship, brotherhood and sisterhood.
On the one hand, all religions counsel forgiveness, patience and compassion and ways to cultivate them. These are practical qualities that are of great value in creating a dialogue that we can share with others. On the other hand, we also have to admit the unfortunate fact that religion is sometimes the source of conflict. When this is the case, the cause more often than not is ignorance and misunder-standing, and the fears that result from them. I believe each of us can contribute to countering these shortcomings through engaging in active dialogue with members of other faith traditions and participating in each others acts of worship. I have no doubt there is much we can learn from each other.
Each religion has its own philosophy and there are similarities as well as differences among the various traditions. What is important is what is suitable for each of us. We should look at the underlying purpose of religion and not merely at the abstract details of theology or metaphysics. All religions make the betterment of humanity their main concern. When we view different religions as essentially instruments to develop a good heart - love and respect for others, a true sense of community - we can appreciate what they have in common.
Therefore, I welcome the establishment of UNITHEUM as a centre that will give expression to the essential unity of purpose of all religions and faiths, while encouraging appreciation for the beauty and richness of religious diversity. It is by taking such practical steps that we can actually make our world a happier, more peaceful and more harmonious place for all humankind.
May 19, 2004