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Several religious leaders representing the Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic faiths participated in a Dialogue on Religious Amity held in SEDEC Auditorium on 17th March 2016. This was a follow – up of a series of small group discussions held separately with different faith leaders who had expressed the view that they would like Caritas to provide a platform for working together.
They were convinced that in this way they could build trust and confidence while at the same time developing a mechanism of speaking together with one voice on matters of social concern.
Rev. Fr. George Sigamoney, National Director of Caritas Sri Lanka in his introductory remarks at this event said that at Caritas, religious amity has been seen as a vital component of national reconciliation. As a church organization, Caritas has fostered a close relationship with religious leaders, and many dialogue sessions with them were held to explore how respect, understanding and acceptance of each other’s religious beliefs could help to enhance national reconciliation. Caritas has also set up Inter Religious Forums in the Districts to support its healing and reconciliation programmes at grass root level. “Religion must unite people and not divide them”, Fr. Sigamoney said and emphasized that Caritas will focus on developing a proper understanding of the core principles of the major religions.
The event participants accepted the invitation extended by Caritas to meet together once in three months to build unity and fellowship, as well as to strengthen the Caritas Inter Religious Forums in the Districts through increased participation by all faith communities.
The group workshops held during the Dialogue Session saw lively discussions on several subjects, including the expression of personal opinions by participants about what they appreciated in one another’s religions and also what he or she could not understand about the other’s religious beliefs.
Mr. Newman Fernando Senior Executive Manager of Caritas Sri Lanka delivered the vote of Thanks at the conclusion of the dialogue session.