In an email communiqué from ZTFE:
Dear ZTFE Members & Well-wishers
Members of the European Council of Religious Leaders ECRL met in Frankfurt, Germany between 11th and 13th May 2015, to debate on the future of the inter religious dialogue platform, bringing together European religious leaders from Judaism, Christianity and Islam together with Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Zoroastrians.
More than 40 religious leaders who were gathered at this meeting unanimously welcomed ZTFE past President and Honorary Treasurer of the Inter Faith Network for the UK Mr Dorab Mistry OBE, as a Council Member to represent the Zoroastrian Community. Jehangir Sarosh OBE, the former Zoroastrian representative to the Council suspended his membership to take on the position of Secretary General of the Council.
On behalf of the ZTFE Managing Committee and Trustees, I congratulate our Dorab for being elected as Zoroastrian representative to the ECRL and as Religions for Peace International representative. Dorab’s contribution to the interfaith movement in the UK on behalf of the Zoroastrian community has been legendary so this is a natural stepping stone for him to the larger European body. The ZTFE is further delighted that our veteran on inter faith matters Jehangir Sarosh OBE is the Secretary General.
During its Frankfurt meeting, hosted at Frankfurt’s Jesuit university (Philosophisch–Theologische Hochschule Sankt Georgen), ECRL members discussed an action plan on tackling violent religious extremism. The action plan is intended to be implemented in conjunction with Religions for Peace International, ECRL’s umbrella organization and the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition, bringing together religious leaders and grassroots representatives, academics and activists from more than 100 countries.
“Religion is a sublime ethical and spiritual force that aims to heal human society, provide security and peace among people and ensure human dignity and the rights that flow from it. However, some extremists abuse their religion, distorting its image and using it to achieve non-religious objectives. They project violent images that contradict and violate the essence of their religion”, ECRL moderator Thomas Wipf quoted an important statement recently released in Abu Dhabi, calling violent religious extremism “a plague to the entire world”. Wipf described a multi-religious response to be “a concrete and effective religious demonstration against violent religious extremism”.
Katharina Von Schnurbein, European Commission Adviser for the Dialogue with Churches, Religions and Non-confessional Organisations and equally present at the meeting, stressed that since the Paris attacks, the EU commission has recognized the vital role ECRL will play in the future of a safer Europe. The ECRL welcomed representatives of the Interreligious Youth Forum. They expressed their disappointment that the deadline for achieving the millennium development goals has not been met, and called for a new focus on sustainable goals in the years ahead. ECRL supported their statement addressed to the G 7 Summit in June 2015 in Germany.
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The European Council of Religious Leaders was founded in Oslo in 2002. ECRL brings together senior representatives of Europe’s historic religions Christianity, Judaism and Islam, together with Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Zoroastrians. Together they address concerns affecting the wider community, including poverty, AIDS, interreligious co-existence, disarmament and the environment. ECRL answers to the call for action to promote peace and fruitful coexistence in the midst of an increasingly multi-cultural and multi-religious Europe.
Malcolm M Deboo