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07 / 07 / 2004
The Assembly of religious and spiritual leaders of Montserrat organizes four sessions to open the dialogue with testimonies

The Assembly of Religious and Spiritual Leaders continued today at Montserrat as an act prior to the inauguration of the 4th Parliament of Religions of the World that the Universal Forum of Cultures – Barcelona will host starting tomorrow.

More information about Parliament of the World's Religions

This afternoon, the Assembly organized four parallel sessions to divide the 400 participants into four groups so that they could reflect on key themes that have been selected this year by the Parliament Council: the situation of refugees, the access to water, religious violence, and foreign debt.

The Assembly brings together representatives of the different religions, spiritual leaders, youths, members of civil associations, international organizations, and people who are proof of these conflicts.

One of the groups dealt with the theme of the conflict of sacred texts, opening the debate with different testimonies in regards to what point a literal interpretation can be made of these texts and if these texts stir up violence.

These groups also wanted to discuss the role of the media in the conflict of religions. A woman from the US attacked the media, making a reference to a an interreligious Israeli group that tries to bring Israeli and Palestinian stances closer together and stated that their initiatives never appear in the media.

One of the other attendees also criticized the repeated appearance of images of Muslim groups celebrating the terrorist attacks of S-11 while all the acts of solidarity that many groups from the Arab world carry out are never published anywhere.

A man spoke about the situation in India, where he is from, and where, according to him, there is a lack of education for peace. He pointed out that educating children is very important because the communities are very closed and they don’t teach children to interact with people from different communities. These are some of the testimonies and proposals of the participants of this Assembly of Religious and Spiritual Leaders.

At the end of the sessions, all of the attendees met up again to speak about the positive actions that have been made between different religious communities. An example was made of a Franciscan who, during the Balkan War, risked his life going from one side of the line of fire to the other to save lives regardless of religion.

Tomorrow a plenary session will be held from 10 am to 12 pm as a closing act and participants were asked to think about what individual commitment they would like to assume. People are looking for deep and simple actions to make decisions that will change people and make a local impact that will lead to a global one.