Edmonton Celebrates First World Interfaith Harmony Week

from Don Mayne, Edmonton Interfaith Centre

l to r: Mayor Stephen Mandel of the City of Edmonton; Rabbi David Kunin, President of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre; Patricia McGoey and Hon. Douglas Roche.

Fri, February 11, 2011 11:54:39 AM

Nobel nominee the Hon. Douglas Roche gave a speech to the first World Interfaith Harmony Week program at Edmonton City Hall on February 7, 2011, sponsored by the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action. Mayor Stephen Mandel, who has been a great supporter of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre, spoke and presented a proclamation establishing World Interfaith Harmony Week in Edmonton.

The real story however, is not just Roche’s speech but the event which took place just two days before the City Hall event.

Honorable Douglas Roche, O.C. (Order of Canada- Canada’s highest honor) was asked to speak at this event because he has been a Member of Parliament in the federal government in Ottawa – an elected position, Canada’s Ambassador for Disarmament at the U.N., represented the Vatican at the U.N., chaired the Middle Powers Initiative at the U.N., and was appointed by the Prime Minister to the Senate of Canada. He has spoken at hundreds of gatherings about eliminating nuclear arms, including at Hiroshima, Japan, on the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the first nuclear bomb, taught at universities all over the world, and is one of the best known proponents of nuclear disarmament in the world.

Two days before the event, word came that Douglas Roche had been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Peace. So Edmonton’s first World Interfaith Harmony Week celebration was addressed by a nominee for the Nobel prize.

Douglas Roche and his wife, Patricia McGoey, are well known members of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action.

Roche came to Edmonton in 1965 to edit the Western Catholic Reporter, the weekly newspaper of the archdiocese. He brought the message of Vatican II to the people of Canada, and became a leading spokesman for the changes it brought.

In his address to the World Interfaith Harmony Week he spoke of the call by Pope Benedict XVI to the leaders of the world’s major faiths to raise their voices in harmony on behalf of the dispossessed and powerless next October in Assisi, Italy. They will join with him to “solemnly renew the commitment of believers of every religion to live their own religious faith as a service in the cause of peace.”

Of special significance to NAIN is that this event will be on the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s similar journey to Assisi to pray with world religious leaders for peace. The North Americans who attended that event in 1986 returned home to hold another interfaith gathering for peace, which was referred to as the North American Assisi. Out of that event rose the North American Interfaith Network, which unites people of many world faiths in prayers for the cause of peace.

Read the entire speech at http://nain.org/edmontonhw11.pdf

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