11/16/2016, 17.34
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Sri Lankan Christian and Muslim leaders agree to joint commitment to religious harmony

by Melani Manel Perera

Leaders sign a ten-point initiative that includes, among other things, action to support and develop relations of friendship and respect for each other’s faith. Good relations between Christians and Muslims can be the prelude to harmony among all religious communities.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lankan Christian and Muslims leaders have decided to work together to strengthen harmony between their respective religious communities.

Sri Lanka’s National Christian Council (NCC) and several Islamic leaders are behind the initiative whereby they commit themselves to a joint ten-point programme to build peace and promote social justice.

On 9 November, representatives of various Christian groups (Methodists, Anglicans, Church of Ceylon, lay Catholics) met with Muslim leaders at the Hector Kobbekaduwa Agrarian Research and Training Centre to sign the initiative titled ‘In the Name of God, the compassionate, the merciful’.

"On the short run, we will not see the results of this effort,” NCC committee member Ralston Weinman told AsiaNews. “However, it is good step from which one day we shall reap wonderful and fruitful results."

The ten-point programme includes a commitment to honour the best of one’s own traditions, respect the various faiths, promote life together, recognise differences, express oneself in a respectful manner towards the cultures, traditions and scriptures of other religions, develop and sustain friendships, encourage meetings between members of different communities, and renounce violence as well as discriminatory and extremist expressions.

For the initiative to succeed, "we need great support from the clergy and Church leaders,” said Fr Maxell Doss, an Anglican priest. “If we can live respecting the ten pledges, we can build a wonderful country, not only harmony between Christians and Muslims, but also between people of all religions."

This is "a good start,” said Mohammad Saleem. “I gave my full support because I know how valuable harmony is to our country. We have to work hard on interfaith issues."

For Weinman, the NCC "will promote the programme as a manifesto. As Christians, we are involved in various initiatives for dialogue, understanding and joint action with Muslims."

"In our country, Christians and Muslims are religious minorities, with historical roots in the faith of Abraham,” he explained. “This shared heritage coincides with our calling in Christ through life and work as a community and people with a sense of ecumenical outreach."

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