Religions for Peace Australia: Year in Review

World Conference of Religion and PeaceYear 2022 saw relaxation of the pandemic restrictions, and the emergence of conflict in Ukraine. There was a strong response from religious leaders in Australia. Living the Change, taking care of the environment and sharing faith community responses to domestic violence were activities that Religions for Peace Australia took up during Year 2022.

During January, after the detention of Novak Djokovic, Religions for Peace Australia supported the call to the Prime Minister to release the remaining 70 asylum seekers held in detention in Melbourne.

Over several years, Religions for Peace Australia has engaged in collaboration with the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, with delivery of Living the Change workshops by several from our leadership team. We supported the Living the Change Global Call on 24 January.

In observance of Australia Day 2022, we gave one reflection:

It is our task as Religions for Peace Australia to engage First Nations with respect for their culture and law, and practice deep listening. It is our duty to take time, remember the Divine spark that is in every heart, and to walk respectfully with First Nations representatives into the future of our nation, and the future of our Inter-religious Council of Australia.

Professor Douglas Ezzy of University of Tasmania gave the 2022 World Interfaith Harmony Week lecture on Tuesday 1 February 2022, on the topic of Religious freedom, discrimination, and living well together. This will an online event, hosted by Religions for Peace Australia Victoria Branch, Tasmania Branch and the Multifaith Association of South Australia.

We continued with the Living the Change series with Aligning finances with your Faith: Banks Workshop on Thursday, 10 February.

In observance of International Women’s Day on March 8, Religions for Peace Australia joined Religions for Peace International’s UN NGO event, Religions and Women’s Rights: Principled Engagement and Mutual Accountability on 16 March.

We joined Religions for Peace International in their partnership with Europe, A Patient Association with Prayers for Peace – all around the world on March 24.

Toward the end of March, another Living the Change workshop was presented: Protect our planet with your finances (Gas and Electricity). We also participated in the Healing Prayers for a Wounded World in Adelaide.

On March 31, Religions for Peace Asia held an Interfaith Prayer Service for Ukraine. Officers from Religions for Peace Australia participated in this event.

In April, Religions for Peace Australia signed the Statement from Australian faith leaders on Temporary Protection Visa Holders. We also promoted the World Council of Churches Guide for Faith Communities on Killer Robots which lead to further action by Religions for Peace Australia.

During May, we joined the Multi-Religious Efforts to Address the Root Causes of Forced Displacement and to Assist Refugees, Stateless and Internally Displaced People roundtable and contributed in the light of our earlier work on trafficking in people.

Former Vice-President of Religions for Peace Australia, Dr. Anna Halafoff – a well known researcher of spirituality, religion and interfaith matters – presented one address to the Contemplative Studies Centre of Melbourne University, Being spiritual in Australia: Complexity, contemplation and controversy.

Our first activity in June was the continuation of the Living the Change workshops (in collaboration with Australian Religious Response to Climate Change) with the delivery of Protect our planet with your finances (Insurance Workshop). These sessions addressed the question, “How green are your Insurance suppliers?”

June also saw the Annual General Meeting of Religions for Peace Australia. Emeritus Professor Desmond Cahill vacated the Chair and was elected inaugural President of Religions for Peace Australia. (At the recent 9th Asian Conference of Religions for Peace General Assembly, Professor Cahill was elected Moderator of the Asian Conference of Religions for Peace, unanimously, by the 22 member nations present.) Ms Philippa Rowland, Chair, Multifaith Association of South Australia was elected to the Chair of RfPA. The address to the AGM was given by the Western Australia delegate, Prof. Samina Yasmeen AM, who spoke on Promoting Social Cohesion: Children as Agents of Change.

Affinity Intercultural Foundation and Macquarie University conducted an interfaith symposium “Faith, Social Cohesion and Community Resilience” addressing issues around faith communities and the experience of Covid-19. Moderator of the Asian Conference on Religions for Peace (and President, Religions for Peace Australia) Emeritus Professor Des Cahill gave one address to the symposium on the topic of COVID-19: Impact, Responses, Learnings and Ongoing Challenges for the World’s Faith Communities in Australia.

The NSW Branch of Religions for Peace Australia celebrated 10 years – a decade of holding its events and proceedings in the State Parliament. Talks are given by Hon. Walt Secord, Shadow Minister, and Peter Wertheim, co-Chief Executive Officer, Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

Convenor of the NSW Branch of Religions for Peace, Josie Lacey AM, was honoured in the NSW parliament for her service to the community and to interfaith activities. NSW Labor frontbencher Walt Secord has hosted a special event at State Parliament where he addressed the parliament paying tribute to Jewish communal leader Josie Lacey.

During July, we supported the Racism – It Stops with ME campaign. Religions for Peace Australia has partnered with the Australian Human Rights Commission Anti Racism Strategy since 2012. We joined with Victorian Government, Sisters4Sisters and Digital Wire in promoting “A Faith Leader’s Guide and Toolkit: Preventing and Responding to Family Violence”, a guide which was to be part of the later delivery of an online workshop and symposium.

August 2022 began with another Living the Change workshop: Protect our planet with your superannuation.

Moderator of Religions for Peace Asia – and President of Religions for Peace Australia, Emeritus Professor Des Cahill attended the Interreligious Gathering for World Peace, on Mt. Hiei, Japan, and presented an address, Mega-Cities and Climate Change: The Role of Religious Leaders.

August 6th, was the 77th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Religions for Peace Australia joined with Voices – United Religions Initiative – worldwide – in prayer for a future free from the threat of nuclear weapons.

During August, Religions for Peace Australia signed the Joint Interfaith Statement to the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). We also announced the forthcoming online symposium: Australian Quakers – in collaboration with Safe Ground, Religions for Peace Australia, United Religions Initiative, Pax Christi, the Multifaith Association of South Australia and the Canberra Interfaith Forum – will host an event on 22 September 2022 (in person and online) presenting the Australian Interfaith Response to the use of autonomous weapons – otherwise known as Killer Robots.

During August of 2022, in support of the Baha’i Community Australia and worldwide, we presented a series of four articles over the month, Current situation of the Bahá’í community in Iran.

At our August executive meeting, we formally admitted the Faith Communities Network of Tasmania as an affiliate of Religions for Peace Australia.

September: In addressing the impact of Covid on International Students from India, Religions for Peace President Prof. Des Cahill said, “Indian born community and its leaders now have a greater responsibility for creating and continuing to create a cohesive multi-cultural and multi-faith society” at the Annual General Meeting of IndianCare on Sunday, 11 September 2022.

On 22 September – in observance of UN International Day of Peace – Religions for Peace Australia partnered with Australian Quakers, Safe Ground, United Religions Initiative, Pax Christi and the Multifaith Association of South Australia in presenting the online forum, Religion, Peace and the Moral Issues of Fully Autonomous Weapons.

In observance of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, several articles on Queen Elizabeth and Interfaith Activity were posted to our website.

Several members of the leadership team of Religions for Peace Australia participate in the Asia Pacific Women of Faith Network. The Asia Pacific Women of Faith Network has been attending the issue of human trafficking as one of its program objectives. Human trafficking is at its highest in Asia and Oceania regions. An online seminar exploring this issue was held on Thursday, September 29th, 2022 called Human Trafficking in Asia: Challenges and Best Practices

In October, Religions for Peace Australia signed the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. Faith leaders made the moral case for a global just transition away from coal, oil and gas: As leaders across diverse religious and spiritual communities around the globe, we called on governments to develop and implement a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Religions for Peace Australia and its affiliates join our voices to the United Nations call for an end to all systematic persecution of religious minorities, and the persecution of women in Iran. The following Letter of Support for Women and Religious Groups suffering Persecution in Iran was issued.

The Australian Religious Response to Climate Change conducted a national prayer event: Multifaith Climate and Fossil Fuel Action: National Multifaith Services in all states. Members of Religions for Peace Australia and affiliate organisations participated.

In Darwin, the Northern Territory Branch of Religions for Peace Australia was launched. The Secretary and the Webmaster were to attend. Alack, Covid and Disaster Ministry called these officers elsewhere.

November 2022 opened – once again – with a Living the Change Workshop, Aligning finances with your Faith: Banking Workshop.

COP27 saw many interfaith and multi-faith events. One such event in London was attended by an observer from Religions for Peace Australia, Bishop Philip Huggins. This event presented the “Ten Principles for Climate Repentance”, in a nod to the 10 Commandments revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai, which is about 125 miles away from the COP27 conference.

On November 25 – in observance of the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Religions for Peace Australia partnered with Queensland Churches Together, the NSW Ecumenical Council and the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health in presenting an online sharing of resources: Faith Communities Sharing Preventing Family Violence. Presentations from this online event are found here and here.

On November 29, the Asia Pacific Women of Faith Network presented a Climate Change Seminar, in which Religions for Peace Australia contributed important observations on Climate Change. You can read the Welcome Message here.

December: Prayers and Sacred Reflections responding to Floods in Australia was online on Tuesday 13 December with presenters from many religions.

The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade commenced an inquiry into international armed conflict decision making with the terms of reference referred by the Minister of Defence. Religions for Peace Australia has made a submission to the Inquiry.

The China Committee on Religion and Peace (CCRP) and Religions for Peace International jointly presented the 3rd International Seminar on Religions and Ecological Civilization: Harmonious Coexistence between Human and Nature on Wednesday, December 21, 2022. Presentations were made by members of the Asian Conference on Religion and Peace and Religions for Peace Australia.

Facing the Threat of the Global Climate Crisis Together was a presentation given by the Chair of Religions for Peace Australia, Ms Philippa Rowland. Climate change is upon us. The daunting reality is we are living through the predicted increased frequency and intensity of extreme events, as shown by growing regional evidence and experience of unprecedented wildfires, floods, cyclones, melting glaciers, volatile temperatures and rising sea levels.


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