21.06.2004 General News

Inter-Faith Peace Summit in Africa takes off in Ho

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Accra June 21, GNA - Religious Leaders from West African countries would on Tuesday converge at Ho in the Volta Region for an Inter-Faith Peace Summit to promote peace efforts and conflict resolution initiatives in Africa.

President John Agyekum Kufuor is scheduled to deliver the opening address at the Conference to be attended by representatives of the African Traditional Religion, Baha'I Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.

The Conference would create a forum within which faith communities could work for peace.

Speaking at a Press Conference in Accra on Monday, Sheikh Saliou Mbacke, African Co-ordinator of the Inter-Faith Action for Peace in Africa, said there was the need for religious leaders to get together to curb the trend of conflicts in the West Africa Sub-Region.

He said, "as religious leaders, people listen to us, and we can come together because we all preach the same values of which peace is predominant. No religion preaches violence".

Sheikh Mbacke said the meeting would seek to deliberate on the religious basis for pursuance of peace on the continent and build consensus on a plan of action for resolving conflicts. "Dialogue among religious groups, sharing a cup of tea and taking a group photograph is not enough for us to fight violence. We need to know the basis of our religious convictions and introduce the inter-faith peace mission as an alternative means for brokering peace for the people of the Sub-Region," he said.

The Summit follows a plan of action adopted at the first gathering of Religious Leaders in October 2002.

It is expected among other things to direct faith communities' involvement in peace and enhance continental peace initiatives by religious leaders.

The Reverend Robert Aboagye- Mensah, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana took the opportunity to brief the press on the position of churches on HIV/AIDS.

He said a summit for churches in Africa on HIV/AIDS held recently encouraged leaders and members at all levels to be role models in the fight against HIV and challenged men to stop cross-generational sex. He said the summit also encouraged churches to establish church policies, which held leaders and members accountable for sexual misconduct.

It was also agreed at the summit that every first Sunday of November should be dedicated to fasting and prayers for the rapid end of HIV/AIDS related stigma. He urged church leaders to include messages on HIV/AIDS in their sermons

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