By Ramesh Mathew
FREQUENT meetings involving representatives of different faiths will help reduce global tension and resultant conflicts, feels Syrian Orthodox archbishop Theophilus George Saliba from Mount Lebanon.
The archbishop, a regular participant at the inter-faith dialogue since it began in 2003, is in Doha to attend the 5th conference for dialogue between religions at the Doha Marriott.
Well-known for his bold and frank observations on contentious issues, archbishop Saliba feels that over the past five years, especially in the last three years, representatives of the three leading faiths have succeeded in narrowing down their differences on a number of topics.
“As each year passes, participants have been able to make full use of their personal relations to reduce differences between faiths on a number of critical issues,” he said.
Advocating increased interaction between religious representatives at the initiative of governments, the archbishop felt that dialogue alone can help people sink their differences.
“Once we got a head start in 2003, representatives have been talking the language of love, faith, solidarity and understanding, unlike what had been earlier,” said Saliba.
Highlighting the necessity for holding similar conferences elsewhere in the region, the archbishop said others should demonstrate the same level of interest as Qatar had been showing in the past five years.
Advocating the necessity of co-existence of different faiths in every country, Saliba claimed that Lebanon itself was an example of such amity.
“With two major religions evenly distributed, people understand each other better, irrespective of their differences on a number of issues,” he pointed out.
Terming Qatar’s role in promoting religious harmony in a big away among people of different faiths as a “very positive step”, Saliba said the benefits from such harmony and understanding should reach the man on streets in the long run.