MANILA, Philippines – As part of the preparatory process for the Religions for Peace 10th World Assembly, Religions for Peace Philippines (RfPPh) held its National Consultation last 7 May 2019 at the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines.

The 10th World Assembly will be held in Lindau, Germany this August 2019 under the theme “Caring for Our Common Future: Advancing Shared Well-being”. The Secretary General of RfPPh, Dr. Lilian Sison, gave the participants an overview of the World Assembly and its themes.

The Philippine National Consultation was attended by over 55 religious leaders, women of faith, and youth leaders from RfPPh Affiliates and Partners. The participants reflected on the Assembly Themes and sub-themes which are Advancing Positive Peace, Transforming Conflict, Promoting Just & Harmonious Societies, Working for Sustainable & Integral Human Development, and Protecting the Earth. The participants also assessed how the themes apply to the Philippine context, what religious resources are available, and what common actions can be done to address the issues.

Dr. Roland Schissau, Charges d’ Affaires of the Embassy of Germany to the Philippines, delivered a Special Address on behalf of the German Ambassador and the German Federal Foreign Office, who are partners of RfP in hosting this year’s Assembly. Dr. Schissau told the participants that as one of the Foreign Policies of the German Government, the Federal Foreign Office set up the Task Force on the Responsibility of the Religions for Peace.

Speakers for the different Sessions on the sub-themes include Atty. Jo Imbong of the Legal Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines; PSUPT Imam Ebra Moxsir, President of the Imam Council of the Philippines; Ven. Miao Jing Shi, Head Abbess of the Fo Guang Shan Mabuhay Temple; and Dr. Lilian Sison.

Imam Moxsir shared how interfaith action has played and instrumental role in advancing peace in the Mindanao, a region that has experienced decades-long armed conflicts. He shared that a way to achieve positive peace is to seek “positive dialogue” and to consult and collaborate will all the stakeholders.

Speaking about “Good seeds on good grounds”, Atty. Jo Imbong shared how we can promote just and harmonious societies through the “Politics of the Common Good” which includes shared sacrifice and service, mutual respect, solidarity, and humility. She told the participants that “These good seeds must be sown in order to reap the good fruits of a just & humane communities.” She also emphasized that solutions to certain social problems require a moral transformation and this transformation is born due to the powerful influence of faith and religion.

Ven. Miao Jing Shi shared with the participants the words of Venerable Master Hsing Yun: (1) Relinquish the exclusiveness, respect one another for greater tolerance; (2) Cease infighting, unite for stronger influence; (3) Cease insistence on no one’s view, selflessness is the only path to harmony; and (4) Cease opposition between one another, only compassion finds peace. She also notes that “Filipinos are very happy people because we have faith. We are very resourceful. We make use of simple things and make something big out of it. It is a treasure that we have here in the Philippines, that we are happy with what we have.”

Speaking on how we can Protect the Earth, Dr. Lilian Sison shared the effects of climate change and actions being done by the government and religious organizations to prevent climate change. She also shared with the participants the various religious teachings and resources that speak about protecting the Earth. She also talked about the important role of the youth in protecting the Earth.

During the National Consultation, a Women Meeting and a Youth Meeting was also convened to give time for the participants to reflect on the Assembly Themes and Sub-themes with a special focus on how the themes apply to the context of women and the youth. The Women Meeting was moderated by Atty. Jo Imbong and the Youth Meeting was moderated by Renz Christian Argao, RfPPh Youth Coordinator and Co-Moderator of the RfP Asia and Pacific Interfaith Youth Network.

The National Consultation also led to concrete actions. Through bilateral meetings happening on the sidelines of the Consultation, projects were developed in collaboration with the RfPPh affiliates and partners.