Photo from Faisal Camsa Jr./BIO
COTABATO CITY—Bangsamoro Government demonstrated its support for the Religious Peace Academy (RPA) during its inauguration on August 1, at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex (SKCC) within the Bangsamoro Government Center in this city.
Under the theme “Creating a Platform for Enhancing Comparative Scriptural Knowledge”, the event, spearheaded by Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Lights (HWPL–Philippines), aimed to establish connections, alleviate tensions, and foster harmonious relationships among individuals, irrespective of affiliations, faith, or beliefs.
BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim highlighted the pivotal role of religious figures in nurturing and upholding peace and harmony. He underscored the academy’s importance in sustaining the ongoing peace efforts within the region.
“The launch of this academy is a manifestation of our unwavering commitment to continuing the peace initiatives in the region,” Ebrahim stated.
He expressed his confidence in the academy’s ability to produce advocates of religious peace globally.
The Chief Minister further emphasized, “As we write the new chapters of the religious academy of HPWL, we will continue to work to promote understating among religions, prevent conflicts caused by religious dogma, identify the role of religious organizations in promoting peace, and create the safe space for enhancing comparative scripture knowledge.”
Most Rev. Antonio Ledesma, SJ. D.D., Archbishop-Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Cagayan De Oro, affirmed that all religions, be it Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, or indigenous beliefs, are inherently oriented towards peace.
“We are all working for peace and our creature and the sources of all also trying to bring about this peace in the world,” Archbishop Ledesma stated.
He urged the continuation and strengthening of dialogue, partnership, and common humanity through the said academy.
Since 2014, HWPL has actively operated the World Alliance of Religions’ Peace (WARP) Office globally, fostering religious understanding, conflict prevention, and the role of religion in peace.
Highlighting the urgency of interfaith dialogue, Akmad Brahim, Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy (MENRE), emphasized the paramount importance of HWPL’s peace initiative. He noted that conflicts, stemming from religious disparities, continue to inflict suffering and division in the world today.
Brahim asserted, “The Peace Academy’s efforts to educate, engage, and empower religious leaders and communities are instrumental in paving the way for lasting peace.”
Dr. Muhammad Nadheer Ebil of Bangsamoro Darul Ifta (BDI), in support of Islamic Scholars, expressed that the Religious Peace Academy is a crucial step towards promoting peace and understanding of different religions.
“The academy will help to elevate the discourse on religious peace and contribute to a more peaceful world,” Ebil said.
Explaining the RPA, John Rommel Garces, Chief Branch Manager of HWPL Philippines, explained that the academy offers a lecture series comprising 33 lessons, each lasting a maximum of 45 minutes. These lessons, accessible through an online platform, aim to facilitate an in-depth study of diverse religious scriptures, fostering global peace and harmony.
“The RPA lectures are free of charge, and we anticipate registrations from 500, 1000, or even more individuals. The lecture series will begin on August 7 and conclude on December 3, followed by a graduation ceremony,” Garces said.
The HWPL Religious Peace Academy intends to delve into the core teachings of various religions through scriptural lectures by esteemed religious leaders. Its objective is to catalyze effective interfaith dialogue and comprehension, illuminating a path where diverse religious communities converge.
Over 300 participants, primarily Bangsamoro youths, engaged in the program launch. (Kasan Usop, Jr./BIO)