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416-801-5597  

 

Rev. Leslie Gabriel Mezei

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Publisher

416-226-2869  

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INTERFAITH UNITY MAGAZINE NEWSLETTER:   

March 19, 2009 issue – Deadline for next Magazine Issue:  April 02, 2009

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Publisher/Editor: Rev. Terry Weller  416-801-5597    - Founding Publisher:  Rev. Leslie Gabriel Mezei

 

CONTENTS LISTING (click titles below to go to listing)

Note:  Links on your computer may have to be permitted to operate

 

 

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

First Draft Of An Arabic Translation

Of Golden Rule Texts From Thirteen Religions

Paul McKenna
Scarboro Missions Interfaith Desk

 

COLUMNISTS

Doha Educates And Inter-Faiths

By Raheel Raza ( writing from: Doha, Qatar)

 

A Modern Monk

by Leslie Gabriel Mezei

 

EVENT REPORTS

The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi

return visit to Scarboro Mission

By Kathy Densmore

 

Trinity Interfaith Group “Road Trips”

By Terry Weller

 

BOOK REVIEWS

Right Relationship
Building a Whole Earth Economy

 

DISCLAIMER

A note to our readers and contributors

 

    

  RESOURCES

Interfaith Dialogue Issue Of Scarboro Missions Magazine, Jan-Feb 2009

Reported by Leslie Gabriel Mezei

 

Soldiers Of Peace

Religions for Peace–USA commends Soldiers of Peace,

a new film by Steve Killea

 

"Interfaith eLERTS"

A cross-cultural celebration of sacred days

and religious observances . . in your inbox

NEWS

Time For Faith Leaders

To Step Up

Rabbi Dow Marmur, Toronto Star, February 9

 

Dalai Lama Marked

The 50th Anniversary Of Tibet's Uprising

 

Politicians Attending Meeting In Muskoka Will Get Push To Aid The Poor, Environment


Faith And Ethics Reporter, Toronto Star

 

INSPIRATION

On the question of his own Enlightenment the Master always remained reticent

 

 

 

 

 

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& Interspiritual Activities,

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VOLUNTEER

PUBLISHING TEAM:

Rev.Terry Weller

Publisher. Editor

416-801-5597

 

Rev. Leslie Mezei

Founding Publisher

416-226-2869

 

 

Additional

volunteers

are welcome

to do some

research,

reorganize

& expand

the Resources

Section, start

a Directory

of Interfaith

Organizations,

help maintain the

subscriber list, etc.

info@

interfaithunity

.ca

 

 

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

 

FIRST DRAFT OF AN ARABIC TRANSLATION

OF GOLDEN RULE TEXTS FROM THIRTEEN RELIGIONS

“Dear Muslim friends and other friends:

By the grace of Allah, we now have a first draft of an Arabic translation of golden rule texts from thirteen religions.

We have these by the good graces of Judy Csillag who in January attended a Muslim-Christian’s women’s interfaith dialogue conference in Damascus, Syria.

One workshop at the conference focused on the golden rule and this was how we were able to come up with the translation.

Because my knowledge of Arabic is nil and because I know from experience that it takes a lot of experience to come up with a polished and professional translation, I am inviting your cooperation in this matter.

I’m wondering if we could build a team of individuals with fluency in English and Arabic to move this translation toward a final draft. It would be great to have one professional translator on the team.

Sr. Lucy Thorson of the Scarboro Missions Interfaith Team is working on a Hebrew translation with members of the Jewish community. I believe they are on their second draft.

Can you imagine the global impact of these various golden rule texts in Arabic and Hebrew?  The translation and publication of the texts could be followed by the creation of posters for each language.

But all this involves lots of work, commitment and expertise.

I welcome your thoughts on this matter.”

Peace,
Paul McKenna
Scarboro Missions Interfaith Desk, 2685 Kingston Rd., Toronto, Ontario M1M  1M4
    
tel. 416-261-7135 ext. 296
interfaith@scarboromissions.ca  www.scarboromissions.ca

 

 

 

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COLUMNISTS

 

DOHA EDUCATES AND INTER-FAITHS

By Raheel Raza ( writing from: Doha, Qatar)

“What happens when you bring six US Ivy league universities and set them up in the desert? You get Education City – new frontiers in higher education for the Gulf region located in Qatar. You also get students and faculty from all over the world and a mixture of faiths and nationalities that Doha cutely calls MULTI-VERSITY.

What’s unusual about this Emirate in the Gulf region is that they’ve used their gas and oil resources to invest in education and interfaith dialogue at a very high level. Interfaith dialogue as a first in a Gulf country was initiated by the Emir of Qatar 6 years ago because he felt that religious conflicts around the world made it necessary for followers of religions to be involved in interfaith dialogue. About 86 delegates from all over the world attended the first conference and today they are preparing for the 7th conference of interfaith dialogue later this year. There is a Patriarch in Doha as well as other churches including St. Peter and St. Pauls Coptic Orthodox church in a Gulf nation. Last year the first Catholic Church opened its doors. On a visit to the Islamic Cultural Centre, I was amazed to hear that the sermon was in English and the two Imams were Canadian and American! The walls were covered by writings about the inter-connections between the Abrahamic faiths plus tours of the mosque. This is a huge move in that part of the world and very welcoming. …”

 

Raheel Raza is an inter-faith and inter-cultural diversity consultant living in Mississauga. www.raheelraza.com   

 

Read the Full Column

 

 

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A MODERN MONK

By Leslie Gabriel Mezei

“Give us that story of the old Monk, which you told last night to the youth,” Fr. Terry Gallagher urged the Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi at the Scarboro Missions interfaith gathering of over fifty people on Saturday, March 7.

 

The Dalai Lama was walking in the garden of the Dharamsala centre in India, when he came upon an old Monk trimming the trees. He asked the Monk about the many years he was jailed by the Chinese in Tibet.

“I was in great danger,” the old Monk said.

“Your body was in danger? Your life?”

“Much bigger danger than that.”
“What could that be?”

“I was in danger of losing my compassion for the Chinese.”

 

Stunned, we retreated into silence, contemplating this great forbearance and wisdom. How to achieve and practice the compassion that is central to Buddhist faith?  He led us in a guided meditation that demonstrates it. I hope he forgives me for recording it, so I can bring it to you. … [See full text of the meditation on the website.]

    He listened to us and answered many questions. When the conversation turned to interspirituality, he simply said that although he was born to a Hindu Brahman family, and became a Buddhist Monk, he never left Hinduism. In fact, his Buddhist mentors encouraged him to learn his own tradition. He spent four years in a Rama Krishna Ashram, learning his Hindu heritage and the Sanskrit language so he could read the original texts. A brilliant student, he later studied philosophy and physics in the West, …” For pictures of the Saturday afternoon session, CLICK

 

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For more pictures of the Saturday afternoon session, see: http://picasaweb.google.com/LeslieMezei/TenzinPriyadarshiAtScarboroMissions#5311232951317579234

 

EVENT REPORTS

THE VENERABLE TENZIN PRIYADARSHI

RETURN VISIT TO SCARBORO MISSION

Publisher’s Note:

The week-end of March 6-8 were special for Father Terry Gallagher as he and Scarboro Missions hosted a visit by the Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi, a student of the Dalai Llama; Director of The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative

Values at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and President of The Prajnopaya Foundation, a worldwide humanitarian organization.

 

By Kathy Densmore

“The three meetings with the Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi were very different each time. The Friday “Gathering of the Youth” at Scarboro Missions, Toronto, was my favorite. The youth asked questions that resonated with me (as an Elder) on a very personal level. Such as questions regarding “how to live spiritually while immersed in a materialistic society” to “how to apply the Golden Rule during difficult situations”. The questions were fresh and brimming over with a grounded desire to hear his wisdom on how to live life.

Saturday afternoon at Scarboro Missions offered a different flavor. The adult interfaith community was in attendance and much time was spent on introductions to the various religions represented and the work being done by each representative. This was valuable to me personally as it afforded a broader view of what Interfaith looks like through Scarborough Missions. However, this meant the time for Tenzin to speak was shortened. The questions were few from the group and they were broader in scope than being on a personal level. The air was leaning towards more of a political nature.

Sunday involved a road trip near the Six Nations Reserve in Brantford to participate in a “Sacred Fire”. I believe it was Father Terry Gallagher’s way of honoring both Tenzin and our hosts by bringing them together. For my husband and me it was a life-changing experience. It began with the honour of having Tenzin as a captured audience in our car for the two-and-a-half hour drive where conversation flowed freely. Upon our arrival the warmth and sincerity of our gracious hosts overwhelmed us. We started with the sharing of a meal provided by them as a welcoming gesture. Afterwards, we headed to the fire where they began with the traditional singing of a native song accompanied with drumming that was in itself transforming. We were then introduced to the history and meaning of the “Sacred Fire” from going back to their ancestors to the present-day hope they have for their youth. Various faiths were represented and gratitude and hope were the themes that united us all, as was evident in everyone’s own truth in sharing at the “Sacred Fire”.”

 

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TRINITY INTERFAITH GROUP “ROAD TRIPS” since December 14/08

Click the links to view all of the photos

PUBLISHER’S NOTE:  I have the pleasure of leading an Interfaith Study Group at Trinity Anglican Church in Aurora, Ontario, just north of Toronto. We have been having group outings since last fall. What follows are mini-reports and photos of our trips during the winter of 2008-09.

By Terry Weller

“INTERFAITH YOUTH & ELDERS WITH TIBETAN MONK 03 09

Members of the Toronto branch of the World Interfaith Youth Council met for a discussion with The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi.

The meeting was held on the evening of March 6, 2009 at the Scarboro Missions in Toronto. It was led by Father Terry Gallagher.

Priyadarshi currently serves as the Director of The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Also in attendance were “Elders” from many different cultures and religious backgrounds. (See Kathy’s essay above.)

http://picasaweb.google.com/Interfaith.Unity/InterfaithYouthEldersWithTibetanMonk0309#

GOLDEN RULE MOVIE PREMIER 02 09

A new film on the Golden Rule Poster, created by Paul McKenna of the Scarboro Missions, Toronto, was previewed to a select audience on Sunday, March 1, 2009.

The film was produced by Tina Petrova, a Toronto film producer. The idea for the film came out of her production of another film: Rumi Turning Ecstatic.

The film is suitable for all audiences and demonstrates the lessons of the Golden Rule, also known as the Law of Reciprocity.

The now famous Golden Rule poster can be found in many countries of the world. There is even a copy of it hanging in the United Nations building in New York.

http://picasaweb.google.com/Interfaith.Unity/GoldenRuleMoviePremier0209#

SIX NATIONS INTERFAITH YOUTH HEALING FOR RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS 12 08

In December of 2008 members and elders of the Toronto Branch of the World Interfaith Youth Council met at the Six Nations Reserve’s Woodland Centre near Brantford Ontario. The centre is situated beside the building which previously had served as a residential school for native children.

The school had operated under the control of the Canadian Government and the Anglican Church of Canada. The old school building, which now houses a variety of small businesses and services for the reserve, was one of many such schools across Canada. For more than a century, Indian Residential Schools separated over 150,000 Aboriginal children from their families and communities. In the 1870’s, the federal government, partly in order to meet its obligation to educate Aboriginal children, began to play a role in the development and administration of these schools.  Two primary objectives of the Residential Schools system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture. These objectives were based on the assumption Aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal. Indeed, some sought, as it was infamously said, "to kill the Indian in the child".  Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.
One hundred and thirty-two federally-supported schools were located in every province and territory, except Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island

Our visit in December was twofold:  to view an exhibit of art created by a native artist who had spent 9 years of his childhood in the Brantford Residential School. The art depicts the emotional, physical and sexual abuse he endured along with the other students at the school. The art is his way of healing the wounds he still carries fifty years later.

Secondly we met as a group of over 40 youths and elders from a variety of different ethnic and religious backgrounds to share and pray together. This was a form of healing between Europeans and Natives. The program was led by youthful members of the Six Nations Reserve who are themselves members of the Toronto branch of the World Interfaith Youth Council.

NOTE: photos of the art exhibit are restricted due to copyright. We only have permission to share them with the Interfaith Group.

 

FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS SEASONAL INTERFAITH SERVICE – DEC 14 08

Held at the Insitute for Traditional Medicine in Toronto. This is an annual service conducted by Leslie Mezei. Rev. Leslie Gabriel Mezei is a minister in the Universal Worship, in which all religions and spiritual traditions are honoured. Long involved in interfaith and interspirituality activities, he is Founding Publisher of the Interfaith Unity newsletter and resource centre (www.­interfaithunity.ca ) He is a Holocaust survivor, on a path of spiritual seeking through a universal form of Sufism, Himalayan Yoga meditation, Creation Spirituality, etc.

Three musicians performed: Debbie Danbrook, Japanese Shakuhachi flute; Agha Ecevit, Turkish Ney bamboo flute; and Bea Castro North American First People's flute.

http://picasaweb.google.com/Interfaith.Unity/FestivalOfLightsInterfaithSeasonalService120802?authkey=Gv1sRgCIDw4feruY_stQE#

 

 

 

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BOOK REVIEWS

RIGHT RELATIONSHIP

Building a Whole Earth Economy

By: Peter G. Brown and Geof;rey Garver

ISBN 9781576757628

Description below written by Berrett-Koehler Publishers:

• “Outlines a bold new model for a just and flourishing earth
• Analyzes why so many well-meaning reform efforts fall short
• Explains what everyone can do to make this new model a reality
Our current economic system—which assumes endless growth and limitless potential wealth—flies in the face of the fact that the earth’s resources are finite.  The result is increasing destruction of the natural world and growing, sometimes lethal, tension between rich and poor, global north and south. Trying to fix problems piecemeal is not the solution. We need a comprehensive new vision of an economy that can serve people and all of life’s commonwealth.
Peter G. Brown and Geoffrey Garver use the core Quaker principle of “right relationship”—interacting in a way that is respectful to all and that aids the common good—as the foundation for a new economic model. Right Relationship poses five basic questions: What is an economy for? How does it work? How big is too big? What’s fair? And how can it best be governed? Brown and Garver expose the antiquated, shortsighted, and downright dangerous assumptions that underlie our current answers to these questions, as well as the shortcomings of many current reform efforts. They propose new answers that combine an acute awareness of ecological limits with a fundamental focus on fairness and a concern with the spiritual, as well as material, well-being of the human race.  Brown and Garver describe new forms of global governance that will be needed to get and keep the economy in right relationship.  Individual citizens can and must play a part in bringing this relationship with life and the world into being.
Ultimately the economy, as indeed life itself, is a series of interconnected relationships.  An economy based on the idea of “right relationship” offers not only the promise of a bountiful future but also an opportunity to touch the fullness of human meaning and, some would say, the presence of the Divine.”

 

To Purchase this book

 

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RESOURCES

INTERFAITH DIALOGUE ISSUE OF SCARBORO MISSIONS MAGAZINE, JAN-FEB 2009

Reported by Leslie Gabriel Mezei

“On the cover: "To those who follow other religions...the Church wishes to engage with them in an open and sincere dialogue in search of the true good of humanity and society." Pope Benedict XVI

In "Interfaith Dialogue... Part of the Church's evangelizing mission," Fr. Jack Lynch, S.F.M., Superior General of the Scarboro Missions, explains why it is involved in interfaith or interreligious dialogue and answers the concerns of some Catholics about this activity. "I firmly believe in the observation of Pope John Paul II that interfaith dialogue is not done as a tactical move of self-interest, but 'is demanded by deep respect for everything that has been brought about in human beings by the Spirit who blows where He wills.' (Redemptoris Missio 56, 1990)"    Fr. Lynch also writes: "God is already present in the peoples, cultures, and faith traditions of others. God is present everywhere before us and salvifically active in ways unknown to us. ... As the Asian Bishops stated in 1978 in Calcutta concerning dialogue with the great religions of Asia: 'Sustained and reflective dialogue with them in prayer will reveal to us what the Holy Spirit has taught others to express in a marvelous variety of ways.' "  A 1975 statement of Pope Paul VI is also quoted: "The Church respects and esteems these non-Christian religions because they are the living expression of the soul of vast groups of people. 

They carry within them the echo of thousands of years of searching for God."

A new poster is available: "Catholic Milestones in Interfaith Dialogue" prepared by what has recently been renamed The Scarboro Missions Department of Interfaith Dialogue. There is also a listing of "Catholics and the interfaith conversation" and the “Scarboro Missions Interfaith Mission Statement.”

  • The "Four Levels of Dialogue" is worth quoting in full; it might serve as a model for other groups:
  • the dialogue of life where Christians and others  live together  in a neighborly spirit, sharing their joys and sorrows, their problems, and their preoccupations with one another;
  • the dialogue of deeds where Christians and others work together in the pursuit of humanitarian, social, economic, or political goals;
  • the dialogue of theological exchange were specialists deepen their understanding of each other’s spiritual values;
  • the dialogue of religious experience where Christians and others share with each other their experiences of searching for the Absolute.

There are other features on Thomas Merton, St. Francis and Clare of Assisi, and on various activities of the Scarboro Missions. www.scarboromissions.ca 1-800-260-4815.”

 

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SOLDIERS OF PEACE

“Religions for Peace–USA commends Soldiers of Peace, a new film by Steve Killea, an International Trustee of Religions for Peace (RFP-USA’s parent organization). This award-winning documentary illustrates the current geopolitical state of the world and the ways in which individuals, communities and governments address global issues and effect positive change. It features an array of notable figures, including Sir Richard Branson, Prince Hassan of Jordan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sir Bob Geldof, Hans Blix, and 'soldiers of peace' from Colombia, Ireland, England, Liberia, Nigeria, Kenya and the United States.

www.soldiersofpeacemovie.com/about/synopsis.php

 

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"INTERFAITH eLERTS"

“Announcing "Interfaith eLerts" - a cross-cultural celebration of sacred days and religious observances . . in your inbox!

Created by Kay & Dave Corby at Common Tables. www.commontables.org
Understanding is the key to global harmony. And knowledge is the key to understanding. A FREE subscription to Interfaith eLerts brings you a series of emails which arrive just before, and briefly explain the importance and observance of many of the world's primary holy days. (Included are observances from the Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Confucian, Taoist, Hindu, Islamic, Jain, Jewish, Native American, Shinto, Sikh, and Zoroastrian traditions.)
Interfaith eLerts are FREE, there is no obligation of any kind and you may unsubscribe at any time. To subscribe to Interfaith e-Lerts, simply follow this link and complete and submit the subscription form. You will receive a "confirmation email" with a link to be used to activate your subscription. Please don't forget to activate your subscription!”

(Publisher’s note: the application form asks for more personal information than I am prepared to give – but I noted that those parts of the form are optional, so don’t be discouraged, simply restrict your answers to those you are comfortable in giving. I have worked with this organization in the past with no problems. Terry.)

 

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NEWS

TIME FOR FAITH LEADERS TO STEP UP

Rabbi Dow Marmur, Toronto Star, February 9

     “Contemporary critics of religion tell us that only the poor and the ignorant believe in God. While organized religion is declining in the affluent West, the downtrodden in the Third World are embracing it with a vengeance. The mischievous implication is that belief is only for losers who can be fobbed off with vacuous sermons….

     “The current economic downturn should make us question such complacency. Our search for religious guidance must include a critique of the existing social order that tends to blind those who live in it to what's true and important in life. We've come to sense that the security affluence offers is ephemeral and that to close our eyes to the greed it breeds is immoral. That may be behind the recently released open letter by the moderator of the United Church of Canada in which he calls on Canadians "to risk truly taking up leadership at this important moment in history." He wants us "to consider what we can contribute to transformation, possibility and hope." In an accompanying pastoral letter he writes that "this is a time for prophetic and creative leadership."  I hope that his call goes beyond charity. Though voluntary work remains vitally important, it has always been woefully inadequate in trying to solve social and spiritual problems, for it has implicitly colluded with the status quo. To get us out of the current crisis we need structural changes, not philanthropic Band-Aids; prophetic passion, not priestly compliance. …..

     “One of the few bodies to do so by consistently urging those in power to live up to their obligations is ISARC, the Interfaith Social Action Reform Coalition. In the two decades that it has been my privilege to be involved with it, I've been moved by its sense of purpose and passion. But I've also been disappointed by how relatively little support it gets from its constituents. ….

     “The time has come for religious leaders to prove the critics wrong by exposing our shaky affluence and thus help us all to renew our faith in God.”

 

For complete article, see  www.thestar.com/article/598084

 

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DALAI LAMA MARKED THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF TIBET'S UPRISING
On March 9, the Dalai Lama marked the 50th anniversary of Tibet's uprising against China.

Here are three news story concerning the anniversary as well as Region & Ethics NewsWeekly presenting some background material.

·         Tibetan activists rally in Toronto to mark 50th anniversary of ... - 10 Mar 2009

·         Tuesday was the 50th anniversary of riots on March 10, 1959, in Tibet against Chinese rule that led to a crackdown and the Dalai Lama's subsequent escape ...

·         The Canadian Press - 4439 related articles »
China clamps down on anniversary of Tibet uprising - The Associated Press - 4439 related articles »
Tibet Uprising Anniversary Marked by Global Protests, Prayers - Voice of America - 4439 related articles »

·         Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly  invites you to Watch their June 2008 report on political Buddhism. And read the extended interview with Harvard Chinese history and Confucian studies professor Tu Weiming.”

 

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POLITICIANS ATTENDING MEETING IN MUSKOKA

WILL GET PUSH TO AID THE POOR, ENVIRONMENT

Mar 19, 2009 04:30 AM


Faith And Ethics Reporter, Toronto Star

When the world's most powerful government leaders gather in cottage country next year to discuss how to get the global economy back on track, religious leaders from around the world will be on hand to push them to remember the poor and the environment.

"How can the G8 ignore it if all these voices are speaking together," asks Rev. Karen Hamilton, general secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches.

The Council of Churches is organizing what promises to be the biggest ever such gathering of religious leaders from around the world in a counter-conference to coincide with the annual G8 political leaders' conference planned for the Deerhurst Resort near Huntsville.

Hamilton says there will be top representatives from all the world's major faiths at the counter-conference, including South Africa's Desmond Tutu and the Aga Khan. She has also been told the Dalai Lama hopes to attend, which she says will give the meeting added clout with the political leaders.

Her group launches its countdown to the June 25-27 summit tonight with a public lecture by University of Toronto economist John Kirton at the Noor Cultural Centre on Wynford Dr. Word of the event has been spread by the centre through its network of churches, synagogues, mosques and temples.

Kirton, a world-recognized expert on the Group of Eight, says that while the group of the world's top industrialized nations has promised many times to address the needs of the poor, it has only a 47 per cent success rate in fulfilling its own promises for action.

"They just need to be held to account," says Kirton, an active member in the Anglican Church.

Left to themselves, the G8 leaders have fallen badly behind their promises to address the needs of the world's poor, he says.

Kirton points to promises made at successive summits to fight AIDS and polio in developing countries, for example, while funding for treatment programs has been cut and the diseases are once again on the rise. The same can be said for promises on global warming, hunger and numerous other issues, he says.

And with the financial crisis deepening around the world, Kirton warns, political leaders will be tempted to further cut their help for the sick and poor in developing countries. He has not, however, given up on the G8 leaders just yet. …

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our own Raheel Raza is on the Communications Team of the 2010 Interfaith Leaders' Summit.

 

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

 

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INSPIRATION

“On the question of his own Enlightenment the Master always remained reticent, even though his disciples tried every means to get him to talk.

All the information they had on this subject was what the Master once said to his youngest son who wanted to know what his father felt when he became Enlightened.

The answer was: "A fool."

When the boy asked why, the Master had replied, "Well, son, it was like going to great pains to break into a house by climbing a ladder and smashing a window and then realizing later that the door of the house was open."”

Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit priest from India

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