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TOWARD INTERDEPENDENCE AND MUTUAL PROSPERITY: THE ROLE OF RELIGIOUS LEADERS AND PARLIAMENTARIANS

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The Center for Studies on Freedom of Religion Belief and Conscience organizes and partecipates  to conferences, courses  and any activities  useful to improve the knowledge about Freedom of Religion Belief and Conscience.

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TOWARD INTERDEPENDENCE AND MUTUAL PROSPERITY: THE ROLE OF RELIGIOUS LEADERS AND PARLIAMENTARIANS


  • Parkhotel Schönbrunn 14 Hietzinger Hauptstraße Wien, Wien, 1130 Austria (map)

Interreligious Leadership Conference

Universal Peace Federation

International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace

Interreligious Association for Peace and Development

 Raffaella Di Marzio 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”.


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Session 3: The Role and Relevance of Religion in Building Inclusive, Peaceful and Prosperous Societies


Session 3: The Role and Relevance of Religion in Building Inclusive, Peaceful and Prosperous Societies

Moderator: Mr. David Fraser Harris, Secretary General, UPF Middle East

Dr. Viggo Mortensen, Professor emeritus in Systematic Theology, University of Aarhus, Denmark

Mr. Shlomi Perlmuter, Senior Lecturer, Elul College, Israel

Dr. Raffaella Di Marzio, Director, Center for Studies on Freedom of Religion, Belief and Conscience (LIREC), Italy

Hon. Dr. Andriy Yurash, Head, State Department of Religion, Ukraine

Dr. Ismail Yasin, Lecturer in Islamic Studies, University of Vienna, Austria

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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 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.

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.


Toward Interdependence and Mutual Prosperity:

The Role of Religious Leaders and Parliamentarians

Parkhotel Schönbrunn        April 28 – 29, 2018         Vienna, Austria

 

Programme

 

Saturday, April 28

 

Morning                                  Arrivals in Vienna and Registration

 

16:00               Session I: The Vision and Initiatives of the Universal Peace Federation

This session will feature an introduction to the UPF Founders’ vision and the peacebuilding principles informing the two projects recently launched by the Universal Peace Federation: the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) and the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development (IAPD).

 

Moderator: Mr. Jacques Marion, Secretary General, UPF Europe

Welcoming Remarks: Dr. Katsumi Otsuka, President, UPF Europe & Middle East

Ms. Carolyn Handschin, UN Office Director, WFWP, International 

Founders’ Vision and UPF Initiatives: Dr. Thomas Walsh, Chair, UPF International

16:30               Session II: Religious Leaders and Parliamentarians as Peacemakers

Lasting solutions to the critical challenges of our time call for both the skills and experience of politicians and the global vision provided by religious leaders. How can parliamentarians and leaders of faith-based organizations, transcending national, religious and political affiliations, cooperate to develop comprehensive strategies for peace and development? Panelists will offer their perspectives on the complementary roles of political and religious leaders and propose policies and action steps to address specific challenges affecting Europe and the Middle East.

Moderator: Mr. Peter Haider, President, UPF Austria

Dr. Elmar Kuhn, Dean, Class of World Religions, European Academy of Sciences and Arts

H.E. Fatmir Sejdiu, President of Kosovo (2006 – 2010)

Hon. Angela Guerra, Member of Parliament, Portugal       

Hon. Andrey Svintsov, Member of the State Duma, Russia

Hon. Dr. Mohamad Habash, Islamic Scholar, former Member of Parliament, Syria

18:00               Break 

18:30               Session III: The Role and Relevance of Religion in Building Inclusive, Peaceful and Prosperous Societies

Throughout the world, religion continues to play a very significant role in guiding the development of individuals as well as the wider society. While in some countries—in Europe, for example—there are spheres of life that are largely secularized, religion nevertheless has ongoing relevance and importance. The vast majority of the world's population identify themselves with a religious worldview that informs their ideas and guides their practices. In this session, panelists will assess the conditions under which religions can exert a positive influence on modern, democratic societies and offer policy recommendations to this effect.

Moderator: Mr. David Fraser Harris, Secretary General, UPF Middle East  

Dr. Viggo Mortensen, Professor emeritus in Systematic Theology, University of Aarhus, Denmark

Mr. Shlomi Perlmuter, Senior Lecturer, Elul College, Israel

Dr. Raffaella Di Marzio, Director, Center for Studies on Freedom of Religion, Belief and Conscience (LIREC), Italy

Hon. Dr. Andriy Yurash, Head, State Department of Religion, Ukraine

Dr. Ismail Yasin, Lecturer in Islamic Studies, University of Vienna, Austria

20:00               Dinner

Sunday, April 29

7:00                 Interfaith Prayer and Meditation (optional, in both hotels)

7:00                 Breakfast

9:00                 Session IV: Beyond Coexistence: Dealing with the Challenges of Interdependence - (Four Concurrent Sessions)

            A. Values Education and Healthy Families – Fostering an Environment for Prosperity, Citizenship and Interreligious Harmony

Building a peaceful world of co-prosperity and shared values has long been the goal of religion, politics and educational institutions. In a stable, loving family, individuals may naturally develop capacities for love, respect, communication, cooperation, service, conflict resolution, forgiveness and other social skills that are relevant to life in the wider society. How can this universal principle be applied and extended to encourage harmonious social relations and partnerships for peace in our communities and in the family of nations?

Moderator: Ms. Carolyn Handschin, UN Office Director, Women’s Federation for World Peace, International 

Prof. Yeon Ah Moon, President, Women’s Federation for World Peace, International

Hon. Dr. Vasilika Hysi, Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Albania

Hon. Nina Nováková, Member of Parliament (2013-2017), Czech Republic

Rev. Ivo Sasek, President, Organische Christus Generation (OCG), Switzerland      

Ms. Tahirih Danesh, Senior Programme Consultant, the Ward and Brown Foundation,     United Kingdom

                        B. Middle East Peace Initiatives: Assessing the Role of Religion

Peacebuilding necessarily involves cooperation between all sectors of society. While the world looks in anguish at the horrors of multiple conflicts in the home of the Abrahamic faiths, the evidence on the ground suggests that such conflicts are stoked by an array of other factors, not least a dearth of civic values and near-absence of the rule of law. In what way has—and in what way can—religion play a positive role in bringing peace to the peoples of the Middle East?

Moderator: Ms. Natascha Schellen, Communications Advisor, WFWP Europe;

Vice-President, WFWP Germany

Mr. Oraib Al Rantawi, General Director, Al Quds Center for Political Studies, Jordan

Hon. Tahani Abu Daqqa, Former Minister of Sports, Palestine

Dr. Jihad Naaman, Professor, Lebanese University, Lebanon

Rev. Anders Gadegaard, Dean of the Cathedral, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Denmark 

C. Toward a New Dialogue between Europe and Eurasia

After the end of the socialist system in Europe, following the dissolution of the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, new sovereign states with new borders appeared on the map of Europe. In the context of the current geopolitical realities, participating nations of the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) need to come to the negotiating table to revise the Helsinki Accords to reach a mutually acceptable understanding of the previous frameworks and discuss their possible modification. Panelists in this session will offer their perspectives on the role that may be played by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly – and by the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP) – in this undertaking.

 

Moderator: Dr. Vladimir Petrovskiy, Chief Academic Researcher, Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia

Dr. Walter Schwimmer, Secretary General, Council of Europe (1999-2004)

Dr. Alexander Dubowy, Researcher, Austrian National Defense Academy, Austria

Ms. Dalila Khorava, President, Georgia for Refugees, Georgia

Hon. Viktor Ielensky, Member of Parliament, Ukraine

Dr. Leo Gabriel, Journalist and Anthropologist, Austria

                        D. Peace Initiatives in the Balkans

As a historical crossroads of empires and cultures, the Balkan Peninsula is the center of political, cultural and religious influences that make it a significant field for interreligious and intercultural peacebuilding in Europe in the 21st century. In this session, panelists will offer their perspectives on peacebuilding initiatives undertaken in the Balkans and recommend action steps toward a peaceful and democratic future in the region. This session also will feature a presentation of the Balkan Peace Road project promoted by UPF.

Moderator: Prof. Anis Bajrektarevic, Head, IFIMES Permanent Mission to Austria and Vienna-based Intl Organisations

Hajji Baba Edmond Brahimaj, World Leader, Bektashi Order, Albania

Mr. Mirnes Kovač, Journalist, Preporod Islamic News Magazine, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Hon. Dr. Skender Recica, Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, Kosovo

Mr. Alksandar Pekovic, Ljubljana Creative Forum, Serbia

Ms. Manjola Vasmatics, Secretary General, Tirana UPF Peace Council, Albania

10:30               Break

11:00               Session V: Inauguration of the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development (IAPD) in Europe and the Middle East

It is time for humanity to embrace universally shared values, going beyond differences of ideology, race, nationality, and religion, and pursue a path of mutual cooperation and mutual prosperity. In this way it is possible to build a world of lasting and sustainable peace that can be bequeathed to future generations. To fulfill this task, religious leaders have a primary responsibility to cooperate beyond denominations and work in harmony with leaders in all fields of society. In this session, religious leaders and leaders of faith-based organizations will propose the formation of a world-level interfaith association through which to work together for peace and development.

 Moderator: Dr. Thomas Walsh, Chairman, UPF International

Keynote speech: Dr. Felix Unger, President, European Academy of Sciences and Arts

Archbishop Dr. Johannes Ndanga, President, Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe Ms. Asmaa Kftaro, Women's Advisory Board, UN Envoy for Peacebuilding in Syria

Rev. Dr. William McComish, Dean Emeritus, Geneva St. Peter’s Cathedral, Switzerland

Rev. Dr. Marcus Braybrooke, President, World Congress of Faiths, United Kingdom

Musical interlude

Interreligious prayer

Father Mariano Perron, Delegate for Interconfessional Affairs (1974-2012), Roman Catholic Church, Diocese of Madrid, Spain

Rector Khalil Merroun, Rector, Mosque of Evry, France

 Peace Ceremony

 IAPD Declaration

Dr Elmar Kuhn, Dean, Class of World Religions, European Academy of Sciences and Arts

 12:30                           Lunch

13:45               Buses depart to the Wiener Stadthalle

15:00               “Peace Starts with Me” Festival - Wiener Stadthalle, Vienna

17:30               Buses depart to hotel       

19:00               Closing Banquet

            Moderator: Mr. David Fraser Harris, Secretary General, UPF Middle East  

                        Congratulatory Remarks: H. E. Alfred Moisiu, President of Albania (2002 – 2007)

                        Closing Remarks: Dr. Michael Balcomb, Chairman, FFWPU Europe & Middle East               

Monday, April 30    

7:00                                        Breakfast

Departures