ASIA/PHILIPPINES - In Mindanao the celebration of the Week for Interreligious Harmony: dialogue and good works, even in the face of the earthquake

Tuesday, 7 February 2023 dialogue   human rights   solidarity   earthquake  

Zamboanga (Agenzia Fides) - "We celebrated with joy in Zamboanga and throughout the island of Mindanao the World Week of Interreligious Harmony, which is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 February. It was the United Nations General Assembly that wanted a worldwide celebration of interreligious harmony and every year here, in the southern Philippines, we try to give it the right emphasis. This year, the event of the earthquake on February 1st did not discourage us, but was an opportunity to experience fraternity concretely", says to Fides Fr. Sebastiano D'Ambra, missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), initiator of the movement for Islamic-Christian dialogue "Silsilah" in the city of Zamboanga, on the island of Mindanao, in an area where there is a large Islamic community of about 6 million souls.
Initiated in 2010 by King Abdullah II and Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad of Jordan, the Week was born with the aim of promoting harmony among the citizens of the world, regardless of their faith. "It is a celebration of unity in diversity and of the interrelationship that exists, starting from the dignity of children of God, between people of different religions and communities", underlines Fr. D'Ambra.
During the Week, seminars, meetings, public demonstrations, marches and prayer vigils are organized to bring Muslim and Christian leaders and faithful to unite, "above all by recognizing two common coordinates: love of God and love of neighbor", says the missionary.
The focus of the Week, addressed to all people of good will, was "the power of kindness, charity, mercy." "In several meetings we talked about how religion can enrich the lives of believers and how we can, together, make the world a better place. We encouraged everyone, Christians and Muslims, to follow the path of dialogue and good works to be done together, urging each other to be more involved in communities, starting at the grassroots and starting with children." A good and recent example of collaboration was seen during the recent earthquake in Mindanao on February 1, at the beginning of the Week, especially in the Davao area, one of the island's largest and most important cities. Christian and Muslim volunteers offered help to rescue workers and organized a chain of solidarity and shelter for the displaced.
References were made in the Week to the serious religious conflicts that disturb humanity: the meeting, then, is also a call to remark that "the common values of love, faith, mercy and compassion overcome our differences and are vital for the humanity", since "faith can never be an instrument to sow hatred or violence".
The ultimate goal of the World Interfaith Harmony Week, celebrated in Zamboanga, Davao, Cotabato and other places in Mindanao, "is to promote peace and unity among people of all faiths, to believe in goodwill and to celebrate humanity, so that we can all be better people, open to dialogue, hospitality and fraternity," adds Filipino priest Father Dan Dave Cainoy, a religious of the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata, a native of Mindanao, who took part in the training initiatives promoted by "Silsilah" on Islamic-Christian dialogue. Father Cainoy hopes that "we can all always be active in promoting initiatives of meditation and prayer for dialogue and peace. "We want to celebrate, witness and tell the world that faith in God unites us. This Week has reminded us that despite our differences, in the face of the challenges of the present, we can be united by cultivating love and mercy in our hearts". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 7/2/2023)