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Monsignor Hilary Franco and Reverend Masahiro Nemoto Speak at the Seton Hall  

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Monsignor Hillary Franco, an adviser to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See at the UN, said that diplomats need to stay connected to the communities they represent. Photo credit: Pilgrimage.com

On April 29, Seton Hall's International Law Society hosted an event with representatives from Religions for Peace and the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations (UN). The event, titled "Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together," is based on the joint statement of the same name authored by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. The guests of the event included Reverend Masahiro Nemoto, the Deputy Secretary General of Religions for Peace, and Monsignor Hilary Franco, the Adviser of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN.

Reverend Masahiro Nemoto said that "Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together" is a unifying document and a "gift from God to all of humanity."

"Human fraternity brings together diverse religions and leaders to foster a global culture of human fraternity," he stated. "In this context, the correlation of human fraternity signed in Abu Dhabi in 2019 mobilized a great momentum of multi-religious dialogue around the world."

Reverend Nemoto also described how Religions for Peace, an organization that aims to "achieve world peace through interreligious dialogue and cooperation," has worked to actualize the mission of the document by building interreligious councils and communities.

Monsignor Hilary Franco connected the conversation about interreligious dialogue to the role of diplomacy in the world and the role of the Vatican's almost 1700 years of diplomacy throughout history. He emphasized the importance of diplomats to "stay down to Earth" and be connected to the communities they represent. He also repeated how it is essential to understand history to change the world.

"Cicero said that memory will diminish unless you exercise it. Memory is essential for us. Let's go back and understand the past to make a difference," Monsignor Franco said. "We need to understand that all human beings are connected, and the world can be a better world without wars. God is simplicity himself. We are creating boundaries and we are creating wars."

Reverend Nemoto stated that "as a religious community and movement, we believe our most important mission is fraternity and neighbors - loving neighbors."

"Neighbors live very close to us, there are also neighbors that live very far from us. For me, people living in Ethiopia are my neighbors," Reverend Nemoto said. "For me, all beings are children of God, children of Buddha."

Reverend Nemoto also said that the key words "equal dignity" are often lacking. "Everyone's lives are equally dignified," he stated. "We tend to insist that some lives have more dignity over others. We must realize fraternity in this world. This is a mission of a people to spread the truth of God."

Monsignor Franco agreed with Reverend Nemoto that recognizing human fraternity and taking action is essential, especially to combat wars and atrocities. "In the entire world, we have 29 wars raging. We are talking about Ukraine because it is fashionable right now," Franco stated. "We cannot do that. We are humanity."

Monsignor Franco added that it is not easy to put together different cultures because people do not see each other as human beings. "If we get together my dear friends, we can do wonders. Anything can be done with a willingness to help each other as human beings," he added.

When asked about Pope Francis's decision to cancel his meeting with Russian Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, Franco said that Pope Francis would do anything to create peace.

"In my own personal opinion, I certainly did not like the fact that Kirill is blessing weapons that would mean destruction of others. In the name of God, we do not bless weapons," Msgr. Franco said.

Reverend Nemoto commented on how Religions for Peace is developing a strategy to create multi-religious missions for conflict zones. Some of the goals of Religion for Peace are to pray on the ground, to create camps, and to hold round table dialogue among the parties involved. He also added that it is important to take action not only in prayers and words, but also in risk taking to make changes.

Reverend Nemoto and Monsignor Franco were both asked about how to promote the equal leadership of women in the context of discrimination and exclusion of women outside of religious institutions. Monsignor. Franco said that Pope Francis has done a "tremendous change" and put women in charge of many groups in the Vatican. He added that in the Catholic religion, the highest human being we can think of is a woman: Mary. Reverend Nemoto noted that Religions for Peace is trying to increase its women’s representation.

"The most important identity for me is not that I'm Japanese, Buddhist, Chrisitan," Reverend Nemoto said. "The most important identity is that we are human beings. Male or female it does not matter. We are the same homosapiens."

The Diplomatic Envoy (ITALLICS) asked the panelists how very different religions navigate through the competing priorities of diverse groups and parties. Reverend Nemoto's solution to overcome competing values and competing priorities is "in-depth dialogue." He said that dialogue is needed to see common ground. "Through this dialogue, we can understand what others see as a priority," Reverend Nemoto said.

Monsignor Franco addressed the role of politics in finding a common goal. He said that politics is important, but issues arise when people go against principles and think of their own small interests.

"We are thinking of our microcosms and not about macrocosms," Msgr. Franco said. "Always think of the people you are serving. My father told me that. That’s why I became a priest. I felt I had to serve the people."

Categories: Nation and World

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