Religious leaders from across the continent met in Maputo to promote peace, reconciliation and conservation
A meeting in Maputo of elected representatives from various religious communities in Africa, called for stronger collaboration between policymakers, religious leaders and interfaith organisations to achieve the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
The meeting which took place last week, noted that faith represents a rich resource which can be mobilised for more cross-sector engagement in response to regional challenges like, amongst others, migration, conflict resolution and reconciliation, and conservation of the environment.
Upon conclusion of its business, the meeting issued a statement signed by religious representatives of a dozen countries that make up the Steering Committee of the African Union’s Interfaith Dialogue Forum, a continental platform supported since 2013 by the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID) since 2013.
The Steering Committee highlighted the positive impact of religious leaders and the Council of Religions of Mozambique in the recently signed Peace and National Reconciliation Agreement, with a view to end years of violence following the civil war. At a regional level, they also commended the work of religious communities across the continent to bring peace, understanding and social cohesion to their countries.
“Some countries in Africa still suffer internal conflicts and the misuse of religion to divide and sow hate. Education, sermons and public campaigns can remind people of the loving message of religion and call for respect for human dignity, peaceful coexistence and harmony. Whether in emerging states, in which minorities need to feel protected and included, or during elections when tensions are high, religious leaders and policymakers must work together to call for calm, restraint and reconciliation,” the statement reads.
It also calls on faith communities “to reach out to one another in trust, mutual respect and friendship to achieve goals which serve all humanity and Mother Earth.” It encourages multireligious advocacy for the protection of the environment based on the argument that “all religions teach appreciation for the works of the Creator”.
The Steering Committee was received by Hon Vitoria Dias Dogo, the Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security in Mozambique, who spoke about “the importance of faith as a healing force” and expressed her country’s full support to the group’s work.
The meeting in Maputo took place only a week before His Holiness Pope Francis’ trip to Mozambique to encourage peace, hope and reconciliation in the region.
The group will convene again in the southern hemisphere spring for capacity-building training organized by KAICIID and the African Union. (PRNewswire)