Interreligious Leadership Conference in Wien

Interreligious Leadership Conference took place in Wien, on 28 – 29 April 2018, hosted by Universal Peace Federation, International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace, Interreligious Association for Peace and Development.

Raffaella Di Marzio, very appreciate collaborator of Soteria International, spoke on Saturday April 28 afternoon, in Session III on the theme “The Role and Relevance of Religion in Building Inclusive, Peaceful and Prosperous Societies”.

Dr Raffaella di Marzio (Director, Center for Studies on Freedom of Religion, Belief and Conscience (LIREC), Italy) spoke on the positive influence of religion in society, referring to a number of studies, including an awareness project on minorities, the role of interfaith dialogue in conflict resolution, and religious freedom as a positive influence on economic growth.

In the same Session, the topic was debated also by:

Dr Viggo Mortensen (Professor emeritus in systematic theology, University of Aarhus, Denmark) spoke of the great difficulty in reconciling what appears to be one globalised world with the many differences it holds; of the need for something to hold onto in the midst of a world of constant change. In an increasingly pluralistic world, people look for the like-minded, yet we then face the challenge of how to live together with others who are different. Perhaps most important is to identify common ground; we are all human beings with human needs. All of us face the same challenges (climate and demographic). Our religious sources guide us to seek equality, harmony and identity. (He quoted the gospel of John and SMM but I didn't get the quotes).

Mr Shlomi Permluter (Senior Lecturer, Elul College, Israel) began with the theme of the upcoming Festival, "Peace Starts with Me." Citing Buber, he spoke of dialogue with one's wife and children, repairing (or healing) the family and reaching out to heal the world. Religion calls for justice and mercy and guides us to repair and heal. Yet why do we fail so many times? We have to be willing to critically examine our own work, beliefs, approach and attitude; and we need to have real conversations.

Dr Andriy Yurash (Head, State Department of Religion, Ukraine) drew on his journalistic and academic background to place religion at the centre of modern society. The idea that religion is history - that idea itself is now history! The essence of religion - as opposed to the dominance of a particular institution - remains a traditional component of people's cultural and social identity. It is logical and relevant. It is thus a relevant feature of modernity, as evidenced by the religious answers that emerge in response to questions about one's aim in life.

Dr Ismail Yasin (Lecturer in Islamic Studies, University of Vienna, Austria) contrasted our goodness as creatures of God with the virus of selfishness. He hoped the encouraging pictures of reconciliation between the Koreas would spread to his native Syria. He pointed, not to religion, but to irresponsible religious leadership as one factor in the conflict there, and ended with a call to spread the culture of tolerance.