News reports noted the confluence of Christianity’s Easter Sunday, Judaism’s Passover, and Islam’s Ramadan last weekend, a rare event which purportedly happens only every 33 years.
An article by reporter Jake Thomas in Newsweek pointed out: “On Friday, Jewish people celebrate Passover to mark the exodus of Israelites from enslavement in Egypt. On the same day, Christians observe Good Friday to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus before celebrating Easter Sunday when he rose from the dead. Over the weekend, Muslims will continue observing Ramadan, a month of prayers and fasting to memorialize the transmission of the Koran.”
The convergence of major religious observances highlights the synergies among religions and that, indeed, “we belong to one great human family under God.”
The crisis and challenge that the Covid-19 inflict on all of us provide another opportunity for Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and other religions to further promote solidarity and cooperation in advancing common causes and addressing common challenges, like peace and reconciliation, climate change, and the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
As we repeatedly underscored in this column, the need for dialogue, solidarity, and cooperation among religions — not just governments, parliaments, or political parties — is crucial for the world is in perilous times, aggravated further by the still raging global plague and the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine, which has led to the exodus of some five million Ukrainians to various countries in Europe.
Thus we have always supported calls for the active revival of the Interfaith Dialogue as it upholds a global culture of peace and mutual understanding.
We recall with gratitude the steadfast support the Philippines received from our Muslim brothers when we initiated in the United Nations in November 2004 the concept and practice of Interfaith Dialogue as a way of helping resolve politico-religious conflicts, strengthening the religious moderates, and isolating those who advocate terrorism and violent extremism in the name of religion.
A Philippine-led initiative, the Interfaith Dialogue was approved by the UN General Assembly during the Christmas holidays in December 2005. It was a major victory for the Philippines in international diplomacy and our country’s enshrined contribution in advancing the cause of global peace. Since then, not only the United Nations and individual governments, but also civil society groupings, have been holding these dialogues at local, national, regional and international level.
We earlier noted that the Asia-Pacific groupings clustered around ASEAN have contributed to reducing tensions in our home regions. But, looking forward to the next 15 to 20 years, the Asia-Pacific still seems the hemisphere with the greatest risk of major armed conflict.
The only real solution, the only lasting solution, to these tensions is to embed all our countries in a network of economic, political and moral relationships in an Asia-Pacific community of consent and through a sustained dialogue among the great religions and great civilizations of Asia and the world. This is perhaps one of the best formulas for building regional and global peace that will endure.
Community seems the wave of the future, not only for ASEAN but for the whole of East Asia and the Asia-Pacific.
And it will be our generation’s burden and glory to lay the foundations on which these communal and moral structures are to be erected, so that those who come after us can then turn without distraction to the work of delivering our people from their bondage to poverty, ignorance, ill-health; to the ever-increasing threats of conflict, war, terrorism and extremism; and the new frightening challenges of climate change and environmental degradation.