Amid rising tensions globally, Argentina interfaith panel seeks to promote dialogue & respect

By Lizzie Sotola |
Argentina Interfaith dialogue
Representative of the Evangelical Church in Argentina participated in the "Global Dialogue to promote tolerance, peace and respect for freedom of religion and belief." | ACIERA

Religious leaders, academics and civil society representatives from Argentina recently met to discuss tolerance, world peace and freedom of religion. Held at the National Senate, the meeting was endorsed by the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) – evidence of the interest of international organizations in this initiative.

With the title "Global dialogue to promote tolerance, peace and respect for the freedom of religion and belief" and organized by national senators José Mayans and Fernando Rejal, the interreligious summit sought to be a beacon of hope in the midst of growing global tensions.

Pastor Jorge Gomez, Executive Director of the Christian Alliance of Evangelical Churches of the Argentine Republic (ACIERA), gave a speech on behalf of the evangelical community. Similarly, several leaders of different faiths shared their prayers and thoughts motivated by the search for peace, including Imam Marwan Sarwar Gill of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Argentina; Rabbi Saul Bonino of the Israelite Chaplaincy of Argentina; and Priest Ruben Revello of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Following the event, Diario Cristiano, Christian Daily International’s Spanish edition, spoke with Pastor Gomez who said that "interreligious dialogue in Argentina is a model for the world. Because it fosters a culture of encounter, consensus to promote peace, respect for the other and the common good," as he had earlier emphasized in his speech.

“I briefly pointed out that those of us who participate in this dialogue are doing it because of four laws: the Law of Magnetism, the Law of the Body, the Law of Sowing and Harvesting, and the Law of Agreement. This reflects the biblical teachings that we Christians pursue as followers of Jesus,” Gómez commented.

Pastor Jorge Gómez, executive director of the Christian Alliance of Evangelical Churches of Argentina. ACIERA

“The first means that thinking differently should not be a reason to repel each other, but rather to unite. I based it on the passage from Ecclesiastes 4:12, which says that someone who is alone can be attacked and defeated, but if there are two of them, they stand back to back and conquer. Better still if there are three of them, for a threefold cord is not easily cut. This means that dialogue assembles us, like that triple rope. It may suffer some friction, but it will hardly be cut if we persist in the attitude of sustaining communication. And this is something real in our country,” he said.

Speaking about the Law of the Body, the executive director of ACIERA mentioned that “the body is composed of organs that fulfill different functions. That means that we are coherent when I recognize that the other person has something that I do not have and therefore I cannot say: 'I don't need you!’”

Regarding the Law of Sowing and Harvesting, Gomez said, “If we sow respect, we will reap respect. And this is purely Biblical. In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord Jesus Christ gave the golden rule that says: 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.’ (Matthew 7:12) We are convinced that dialogue is based on mutual respect.”

Although they could be regarded as voices representing different sides in the current war in the Middle East, Imam Gill and Rabbi Bonino were clear exponents of what Pastor Gomez pointed out. In his speeches, the Imam pointed out that “being on the right side for me as a Muslim also means categorically condemning violence and war aggression, wherever it comes from, whether it is my adversary or my ally.” He criticized the expressions of hatred from one side or the other. For his part, the Rabbi said that “the greatest leaders of today's world Judaism, rabbis of recognized knowledge in the Law of Moses, exhort to discard all types of violence.”

Speaking to the fourth law, Gomez said that the Law of Agreement summarizes a good dialogue. “Another teaching of Jesus is in the Gospel of Matthew 18:19 that says, ‘If two of you agree here on earth about anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it.’ Jesus puts the emphasis on what happens when we agree,” Gomez said, and added: “I want to be intentional in saying this: Agreement is not resignation but acceptance. It is not giving up our convictions but seeking common ground.”

At the end of the event, all speakers were honored with a Senate Diploma of Honor for their commitment to the promotion of peace and interreligious dialogue. The gesture symbolized the recognition of Argentine society towards those who seek to build bridges of understanding and cooperation between diverse communities.

The recorded event is available online.

Originally published on Diario Cristiano, CDI's Spanish edition.