01/13/2012, 00.00
ASIA
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Asian experts and scholars meet, to promote culture and interreligious dialogue

by Annie Lam
Three day meeting in Bangkok ends, bringing together 50 Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Confucian personalities as well as those from ethnic minorities. Indian Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil coordinated the event, explaining that the initiative is to address globalization and try to points of unity and exchange.
Bangkok (AsiaNews) – About 50 scholars of Asian cultural and religious studies on Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Taoism and of Ethnic Minority traditions gathered in Bangkok to address some pressing problems and respond to the needs of society today.

Issues of urgency of the contemporary world expressed at the three-day conference included violence, economic crisis, corruptions, cultural conflicts, damage to the environment, erosion of cultures and values as well as good governance in different countries.

The meeting was held at the Catholic-run Assumption University, Thailand, on Jan. 11-13, with the theme “Asian Cultures in Dialogue”. About 20 students of the university also attended.

Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati, India, (photo) the meeting coordinator, told AsiaNews Jan. 12 that this was the first initiative of its kind to “look for insights and inspirations from the culture and tradition that each scholar represents.”

“With the world becoming more and more globalized, there is every possibility for cultures, civilizations, and faiths to dialogue with each other, to listen to each others’ insights, and learn from each others’ wisdom,” the Salesian prelate noted.

Scholars from more than 10 countries and regions in Asia and the western countries, including Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Lebanon, Macau, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United States and Vietnam, participated.

Other cultural and religious issues addressed at the colloquium included: dialogues between Confucian thought and Christianity, between Muslims and Christians, Buddhists and Muslims. Some scholars spoke on Asian values, actions of Taoism on ecology, challenge of business ethics in Chinese context and Confucian ethics in modern society.

Asked if such cultural exchanges may ease tensions in places where attacks on Christians, religious believers or ethnic minorities in Asia, the archbishop said that “it would definitely help a great deal, but the root cause of the tensions and grievances must be studied.”

The 75-year-old prelate told AsiaNews that his dream of bringing scholars from various traditions and cultures together for years was now realized. “I like the theme of the colloquium and hope this effort can continue,” he said.

“In the beginning, it was hard to communicate the concept to people that it was really worthwhile bringing people from different cultures and traditions together for a dialogue. Once clarified, many supported the idea,” he recalled.

Also heading the Office for Peace and Harmony of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences for 12 years, Archbishop Menamparampil said he would share this experience with other Asian bishops during FABC plenary assembly later this year.

The Tenth FABC Plenary Assembly will take place in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on November 19-23, 2012. The theme of the assembly is “FABC at Forty: Responding to the Challenges of Asia”, marking the 40th anniversary of the approval of the FABC Statutes by Pope Paul VI on November 16, 1972.

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