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Tuesday, September 11, 2012
A hundred and sixty young people of different religions around the world were also among the protagonists of the Genfest (Budapest, 31 August – 2 September).

“If each one of us were to share with at least five other young people what we have lived during these days in Budapest, then perhaps we really could change the world.” This was courageously spoken by one Palestinian Muslim from Jerusalem who then concluded: “Don’t forget to pray for the situation in Palestine.” His words were echoed by an Algerian, also a Muslim: “If it was possible to live these days with young people of so many ethnic groups, cultures, languages and religions, then it can also be done in the places we live.” These words were spoken on the last morning of the Genfest, which was dedicated to interreligious dialogue.

Among the main protagonists of the Genfest eventwhich took place in the Sports Arena, there were also Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus who were directly and personally involved in the organization of the event. On Sunday morning as the Roman Catholic young people attended Mass in the great St Stephen’s Square, young people of other Christian Churches took part in liturgical services organised by their own Church: there were members of the Orthodox Church from 8 Patriarchates and Churches, Coptic-Orthodox, Anglicans, Methodists, Baptists and members of the Pentecostal Church. The Holy Supper, which the Lutherans and members of the Reformed Church celebrated together, was presided by Pastor Zoltan Tarr, Secretary-General of the  Synod of the Hungarian Reformed Church.

For the faithful of other religions an alternative program was provided which allowed them to meet for sharing experiences of their commitment to dialogue in everyday life. This interreligious gathering really took the hearts and minds of all who attended. It turned out to be quite a special moment that strengthened the bridges amidst the diversity of religions and cultures. The moderators of the assembly included an Algerian Muslim, a Japanese Buddhist and a Jordanian Christian.

The hall became a living kaleidoscope. There were people from USA, Uruguay, Japan, Thailand, India, Algeria, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian Territory, Macedonia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, France, Italy and other countries. Among them were Jews, Muslims, Mahayana and Theravada Buddhists, Hindus and Jainists and representatives of the Tenri-kyo, a nineteenth century religion from Japan. There were also some Catholic young people among them who wanted to share this moment with their friends.

Representatives from different religious traditions shared how they are already trying to build peace and universal brotherhood in their daily lives. There were young people from a Jewish group of laity in Uruguay who are working for human rights; the commitment of Algerian and Macedonian Muslim youths in living out the values of universal brotherhood in their daily lives at work and at university; social projects that were organized by a Gandhi organization in southern India. The young people belonging to Tenri-kyo described their efforts in trying to bring joy to the world; the Buddhists of the Myochikai shared about their project involving youth training in ethics promoted through various interreligious networks, particularly that of the Rissho Kosei-kai which organises several peace programs, including the “Donate-a-Meal Fund for Peace“.

After nearly two hours they concluded with a minute of deep silence in which each of them prayed in their hearts according to the words and sentiments of their own faith for peace in the world and the work for universal brotherhood, and that they would be true builders of bridges. While leaving the gathering two young Jewish young people from Uruguay commented: “This was an incredible experience! We must work together for bringing this spirit to wherever we are.” Two Hindus said: “There are no words to describe what we have experienced in these days.” One Japanese Buddhist commented: “I’ve found the strength to face the difficult situations with love.” and together with some others he shouted: “Let’s bridge!”


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