On September 4 and 5, the 20th International Meeting of Prayer for Peace, organized by the Rome-based Community of Sant’Egidio, was held in the Italian city of Assisi. This year’s theme was “For a World of Peace: Religions and Cultures in Dialogue.” Representing Tenrikyo, Administrative Affairs Department Head Yoshiaki Uno and Dai-Roma Mission Station Head Hideo Yamaguchi attended the meeting. The meeting was first organized in 1986, when the late Pope John Paul II convoked the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, calling for representatives of the world’s religions to assemble and pray together for world peace. Since then, the meetings have been held in European cities every year.
Marking the 20th anniversary of the meeting, this year’s meeting was held in Assisi in order to revisit the original site of the World Day of Prayer for Peace and to reaffirm the founding spirit of the historical meeting. Attending the meeting were approximately 300 leaders from dozens of the world’s major faiths, including representatives from the Catholic, Protestant, and Anglican churches as well as Islam, Thai Buddhism, Hinduism, Soto Zen Buddhism, Rinzai Zen Buddhism, Tendai Buddhism, Jinja Honcho, Oomoto, and Rissho Kosei-kai.
On the morning of the 5th, the Tenrikyo delegates participated in a sectional meeting entitled “Asian Religions: Interreligious Dialogue and Passion for Peace.” Representing Tenrikyo, Rev. Yoshiaki Uno gave a speech in the section meeting. Four other Japanese representatives, a Cambodian Buddhist monk, and an Indian representative of Hinduism took turns in delivering messages of peace.
In his speech, Rev. Uno said: “Despite the differences in our histories, cultures, traditions, sense of values, and religions, we are equal human beings born into this world, and our very existence requires our mutual support. Nobody is able to live on his or her own; every human being is supported by others and, in return, supports others. Awakening to this fact brings forth a feeling of gratitude from which arises a desire to make repayment for what we have received. This is precisely what constitutes the basis of faith. The significance of our assembling together beyond the boundaries of religions and denominations lies in spreading and conveying this basis of faith throughout the world.
“In the Ofudesaki, a Tenrikyo Scripture,” he said, “the Foundress Miki Nakayama wrote the following: ‘What do you think this path is to be? It is solely mutual help among all people in all matters. If all the world comes to help one another, Tsukihi will accept all your minds. If Tsukihi accepts your minds, I shall work in all matters whatever. (XIII:37-39)’
“Tenrikyo has been actively engaged in dialogue with other religions. In fact, Tenrikyo’s headquarters will provide the venue for a regional interreligious meeting called the ‘3rd Nara Prefecture Interfaith Forum’ on September 16. Religions have unfortunately become a cause of war and conflict in the world. Tenrikyo will further promote its activities, believing that our patient efforts to continue dialogue will lead to permanent world peace.”
In the afternoon, the various religious communities were allotted rooms to conduct their individual prayers for peace. The Tenrikyo delegation members, wearing the kyofuku robe, performed the seated service, the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo, and the first six songs of the Dance with Hand Movements to the accompaniment of the wooden clappers. Speaking in Italian, Rev. Hideo Yamaguchi shared some of the Tenrikyo teachings with participants who visited a booth assigned to Tenrikyo. Approximately 200 participants visited the booth and listened attentively to his explanation.