“Celebrating the transforming power of the Love of God and love of neighbor for the Common Good” was chosen as the theme for the 2018 celebration of the World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) as decided by the United Nation Interfaith Harmony Partners Zamboanga (UNI-HP-Z).

The same theme was also proposed and adopted by the national level. “Love” as a theme is an act of determination and courage and would be timely for the on-going conflict in Mindanao and the Philippines in general. The conflict which in fact has become global as influence by ideologies which claimed to be Islamic. The Marawi siege is one clear example and the seed of this violence had circulated in many places especially in Mindanao.
What to do?

The issue of peace today cannot be simply solved with the law or an agreement like Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), even if the government will find the best solution to solve the conflict. The peace issue in Mindanao and other parts of the Philippines today is especially in the hands of the Muslim Religious leaders and other leaders who are challenged to be more courageous to face ideologies for the common good of all of us. We urge them to act with courage, without compromises. Guided by this alarming situation we believe that the WIHW initiative promoted by the United Nations in 2010 and started to celebrate in Zamboanga City since 2012 is a great opportunity to face the global threats, especially in the Mindanao region. A similar problem is emerging in some regions of India where “political ideologies” justified by Hindu religion and culture are oppressing the minorities, especially Christians and Muslims.

Today more than ever we have to “think globally and act locally” in the specific arena of “Religions”. Celebrating the WIHW we reaffirm our understanding of the spirit of “love” present in all religions and the united element of Peace in the variety of Cultures and Religions. Interreligious dialogue today becomes a priority for all. It must be a new understanding of “dialogue” not build on strategy but on respect and love. It must be a dialogue sustained by the spiritual element of “love”. This is the real dialogue build on dialogue with God, with the self, with others and with
creation. Following this path we can hope to build the Culture of Dialogue, path to Peace in our society. With this spirit let us celebrate the WIHW 2018 with courage and determination guided by the Love of God and Love of Neighbor a Transforming Power toward the “common good.”

Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME
Convenor, WIHW