News Release

Church, Interfaith Leaders in Manila Celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and faith leaders from different faith traditions and beliefs joined together to celebrate the World Interfaith Harmony Week in a series of events and activities on the first week of February.

Under the direction of Uniharmony Partners Manila and the Manila Church People Ecumenical Fellowship, faith leaders came together in an expression of love and unity including Elder Steven R. Bangerter of the Philippine Area Presidency of The Church of Latter-Day Saints. Also in attendance were those from the Fo Guang Shan Mabuhay Temple, Peacemakers Circle of the Phils., Focolare Movement, Imam Council of the Phils, Brahma Kumaris, and Religions for Peace Philippines.

This year's World Interfaith Harmony Week celebration has been significant as it also marks the inaugural International Day of Human Fraternity on 4 February.

The theme of this year's celebration is the spirit of love and hope as one family moving together to serve and protect our common home. The celebration aims to bring the interreligious and ecumenical communities to one family working together to deliver joint action to address the climate emergency.

The World Interfaith harmony week, organized by the United Nations, aims to promote a culture of peace through mutual understanding and interreligious dialogue. It promotes harmony between all people regardless of their faith. It recognizes that at the core of all faith systems and traditions is the desire and capacity to live in harmony and peace with each other and with the natural world.

In her address, Dr. Shakuntala Vaswani, Co-President of the Peacemakers' Circle of the Philippines, said, "Love, compassion, and peace is the center of all religions. We have to bring these values in our families and communities."

Mr. Ted and Asela Arago from the Focolare Movement also shared about man's responsibility as stewards of the earth. They said, "Our role is to save the natural environment. The planet must live to provide a home for humanity. Therefore, a healthy ecology is the foundation of peace."

Meanwhile, Elder Steven R. Bangerter of the Philippine Area Presidency of The Church of Latter-Day Saints focused on Christlike service when he said, "God takes our actions to love and care for others deeply. He takes it as a service to Him."

Later that week, on Wednesday, the Climate Forum was held. Resource speaker, Rev. Fr. John Leydon, Chairperson of the Laudato Si Movement Philippines, spoke about unity and working together to care for the world around us.

In his address, he spoke of the planetary ecological crisis and tackled the history of religions and the role these play in taking action to climate concerns.

Following his remarks was a discussion among Uniharmony Partners Manila, where leaders responded to the challenges and recommendations of Rev. Fr. Leydon.

Due to local restrictions, Uniharmony Partners Manila streamed a Facebook live coverage of the Interfaith Harmony Week Celebrations through the UniHarmony Partners Philippines Facebook page to allow members of the different denominations to participate virtually.

Interfaith Relations, Environmental Stewardship, and Conservation

A respect for the diverse beliefs and unique contributions of all the world's faiths is one of the hallmarks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From the earliest days of the Church, the principle of religious liberty and tolerance has always been upheld: "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may" (Articles of Faith 1:11).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that God created the earth to provide a place for the human family to learn, progress, and improve. God first created the earth and all living things spiritually, and all living things have great worth in His eyes. One of the Church's most sacred religious ceremonies includes a portrayal of the loving care taken by God in creating this earth as a place for learning, experience, and joy.

Latter-day Saints live in various environmental and economic circumstances throughout the world and have differing needs and capabilities. Though the Church does not typically take a stand on specific governmental or regulatory proposals for dealing with environmental challenges, it teaches these essential principles of stewardship and reverence, hoping they are remembered and applied in the lives of members as they care for God's creations.

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