.- Local Catholic children in Bangkok participated in fellowship with other faith groups to foster inter-religious dialogue and peaceful relationships among different communities.
The group contained members of diverse faith backgrounds, including Buddhists, Muslims and Catholics, as well as their religious leaders.
The encounter program was organized under the leadership of Fr. Anucha Chaowpraeknoi, chaplain of the Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Emergency Thailand, in collaboration with the Moral Promotion Center of the Royal Thai Government.
Fr. Chaowpraeknoi told CNA that “through this, we aim to explore the ethics of traditions in other religion and impress on the young minds a sense of common good, thus developing their moral values of fidelity and honesty.”
These activities cannot be a “substitute to Catechism,” he stressed, but rather, they “reinforce” the understanding of Catholic doctrine and how it is incorporated into practical living.
Inter-faith dialogue “empowers” the faithful “to live and to love their neighbor,” striving to create a “peaceful society,” he added.
He pointed to Pope Francis, who has urged Church leaders to engage in “fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges between communities.”
Sister Kannikar Eamtaisong, director of Sacred Heart Orphanage, told CNA that Catholics must “live out the teachings of Jesus Christ,” which include the commandment to love and live in union as brothers and sisters.
Our true faith life is complete only when our spiritual life is put into practice through “love and charity,” she said.
“This program unwinds prejudiced mind to know other faiths,” she explained, and this in turn “reaffirms” the understanding and belief of one’s own faith.
Starting at Santa Cruz Church, the children walked to a local temple and mosque, dialoguing with the religious leaders and learning about their beliefs and prayer.
At the Buddhist temple Wat Thewarat Chakunshonvoraviahan, the Superior monk discussed “the importance of honesty” in life.
He encouraged the children to practice “honesty of personality, of time, of the word, of responsibility, of piety and finally honesty of self.”
One student participant told CNA after the event that while she often finds such talks boring, the inter-religious visit and discussions with leaders were interesting and the students now “feel committed.”
Tags: Interreligious dialogue