An international summit of religious leaders opened in Bali on Wednesday, November 2, to discuss issues of cooperation and dialogue ahead of this month’s G20 summit in Indonesia.
“We have launched an appeal to forgive the wrong suffered, which is the highest form of dialogue,” said Archbishop Felix Anthony Machado of Vasai in India.
“Everyone has said that even religions must become a source of solutions for the problems that today’s world has to face,” the prelate told AsiaNews.
The meeting came days after the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences ended an 18-day general conference that called for various religions in the region to work together in “dialogue.”
In its final statement to the “Peoples of Asia,” the FABC said it will “seek to promote a culture of peace and harmony in collaboration with our brothers and sisters of neighboring religions and traditions.”
For the first time ever, the upcoming G20 Summit in Indonesia includes a session on how the world’s major religions should be involved if pressing global concerns are to be tackled in a meaningful way.
Archbishop Machado described the atmosphere of the meeting as “very cordial.”
“The tone is moderate, no religious leader has spoken of controversial issues, but each has turned to the others to reach out and manifest a visible sign of human brotherhood,” he said.
The prelate said that religions “are often perceived as obstacles to human progress and the challenge is to prove that this is a misperception.”
“The goal is to build bridges of mutual understanding and come together to educate their religious community to take constructive action to grow more compassionate and merciful world leaders, able to heal the wounds caused to the victims of injustice, violence, discrimination and of widespread religious fundamentalism,” he said.
The two-day G20 Religion Forum, also known as R20, which is held from November 2-3, aims to mobilize global leaders to help ensure that religion functions as a “genuine and dynamic source of solutions, rather than problems, in the 21st century.”
The key objectives of the meeting are to:
- prevent the weaponization of identity;
- curtail the spread of communal hatred;
- safeguard human beings from violence and suffering precipitated by conflict;
- encourage honest and realistic conversation within and between religious communities; and
- infuse geopolitical and economic power structures with moral and spiritual values
“No event that I know of is more timely, urgent, or well-conceived,” said Robert Hefner, a leading scholar of global Islam at Boston University and president of the American Institute for Indonesian Studies.
The R20 leaders stress that the existing G20 Interfaith Forum emphasizes how religions can help achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
“We must work together to solve the world’s problems, for a peaceful and cooperative world to be passed on to future generations,” said Indonesian President Joko Widodo in his welcome remarks.