The Words of the Zhijun Family

Macau Forum on Interfaith Cooperation

Wang Zhijun
July 20, 2013

Macau, China -- UPF's first interfaith forum in Macau, China on July 20 assembled 60 people representing a diversity of faiths from Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the People's Republic of China as well as Korea, Portugal, Japan, Malaysia, Timor-Leste, Uganda, the Philippines, and Brazil.

The forum had as its theme Interfaith Cooperation and Human Development. In his opening remarks, UPF-Eurasia Regional Chairman, Dr. Chun Jin-Hwa stated: "God is surely on our side when we unite despite our differences." Speaking in fluent Chinese, Professor Jung Jin-Wan presented the background of the forum by introducing UPF's vision and ideal of world peace through interfaith work. Rev. Hong Dae Hee, the Special Adviser to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification-Taiwan, fervently supported this forum by his presence and his presentation on the philosophy of Unification Thought in promoting interfaith cooperation.

Representing Buddhism, Master Shi Dechao of Shaolin Temple's Bodhidharma School put great emphasis on the importance of physical and spiritual health through religious discipline. He is a well-known monk of the Shaolin Temple of Martial Arts in China. He had befriended UPF Chairman Hyung Jin Moon during a tour of religious sites in China, and he taught and trained together with him in martial arts at the temple. They have become good friends.

Master Shi Dechao endorsed the unity and harmonization of the five major religions in China. Furthermore, because of the close connection between religion and martial arts in Chinese Buddhism, his interfaith work sometimes naturally took on the form of inter-martial-arts. Prior to the forum, he visited a Judo training center affiliated with the Christian Sheun Tao Church of Hong Kong and Macau District, accompanied by Ms. Alice Huang, the Liaison Officer of UPF-China, and Mr. Panfilo Lumibao, the Macau Tongil Moodo master. The visit was warmly welcomed by the Judo trainer, Master Ko Cheuk San.

Peace or war originates from within the human heart; hence the major teachings of all religions emphasize the individual discipline of the body and the cultivation of the heart and mind. According to Geshe Samten of the Tripitaka Buddhist Center, the taming or the conquering of anger is the starting point of peace from within and then without.

Mufti Muhammad Arshad, the Chief Imam of the Hong Kong Kowloon Mosque and Islamic Center, represented Islam. He quoted many teachings from the Qur'an to show that Islam is very open to inter-religious dialogue and cooperation. Despite the challenges of his schedule during the month of Ramadan, the imam was an active participant in the forum.

Two scholars from the People's Republic of China gave excellent presentations at the forum. Dr. Chuang Cheng-Hsien, who received a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Peking University, detailed the meaning and the methodological approaches to inter-religious dialogue and cooperation. In the session on good governance, Dr Zhang Quanyi spoke on "Why Faith Matters."

Mr. Chang Shou-I, representing the I-Kuan Tao Association of Taiwan, offered a fresh approach to conflict resolution. Mr. Jose Pereira Coutinho, Macau Civil Servants' Association, as well as a legislator in Macao, called upon the political sector to emphasize values instead of focusing on the economy.

A unique insight was offered by Mr. Chen Bing-Jie from Taiwan, who is completing his Ph.D. in music at the University of Cologne. The content of his speech was on the role of music different faiths and their rituals. He maintained that learning about the musical traditions of other faiths and adapting elements of them is one approach to dialogue among religions.

A strong Catholic representation was felt through the speeches of several scholars and religious leaders during a session on marriage and family. Dr. Richard T. Kim, an American-educated Korean scholar with a Catholic background, made a presentation, translated by this Chinese wife, a Peking University graduate currently studying Catholic theology in the U.S. In his speech, Dr. Kim described the Catholic view of human sexuality, marriage, and family. Dr. Kayiwa Kawuma, a Catholic marriage and family counselor from Uganda who founded the Kayiwa Foundation, a charitable NGO in Hong Kong, spoke on the importance of fidelity in marriage. In addition, Mr. Agostinho Martins, an East Timor veteran and liaison for the East Timor Democratic Party in Macau, presented a clear stand for family values based on his faith.

Minister-in-Charge Sister Dorcas Lam Lok Long of the Macau Christian Zion Church also recognized the value of interfaith harmony. She came to greet the other participants at the welcoming dinner. As Mr. Agostinho affirmed, "To be religious means you have to be inter-religious." Explaining an important aspect of the UPF vision, Dr. Chang Chuan-Fong of the Macau Family Federation for World Peace said: "God is inter-religious, God is also inter-ideological. Godism has no left wing or right wing, but rather is 'headwing,' and the era of 'Godism 'is dawning."

Through this interfaith forum, organizers hope not only to take on and carry forward the spirit of tolerance cherished by Macau's tradition but also to open a new horizon for interfaith cooperation in a world of rapid change. The call for world peace is a timely one, where religion has a role to play in an interfaith context. This is the significance of conducting the interfaith forum in Macau.

According to traditional wisdom, "If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together with others." Interfaith forums such as this one in Macau can build momentum towards an era of inter-religious harmony and the ideal of one family under God. 

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