Religions look for common ground
Wednesday, January 16, 2002
By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette Staff
WORCESTER-- Do Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists
and Bahais have anything in common?Optimism and hope for the future as evidenced by community building,
enthusiasm, a positive view of others and an emphasis on good news.
They certainly do, say
members of the Interreligious Forum sponsored by the National Conference
on Community and Justice.
The forum just finished a long-term
study among the major faith organizations in Central Massachusetts and
distilled a statement of shared values that are held by all.
group, headed by Catholic Bishop Daniel P. Reilly, has been quietly
meeting at the chancery building since 1998 and has included leaders
from all of the area's major religions.
“What have we gained by
all this?” the bishop said. “In this day and age, especially since
Sept. 11, we need to try and dispel ignorance. We need to come to know
one another better.”
A statement of shared values and behaviors
is scheduled to be “rolled out” Feb. 5 at a meeting of community and
faith leaders to be held at the College of the Holy Cross. More than 2,000
invitations are being sent out, according to Fran Manocchio, executive
director of the NCCJ.
The program, to be held from 3 to 5:30
p.m. in the Hogan Center Ballroom, also is sponsored by the Center for
Religion, Ethics and Culture at the college and will include broad-based
Forum members concluded that people of
different religious traditions hold these values in common:
Compassion as evidenced by caring, love and seeking the best in
others and economic justice for everyone.
Respect for all
cultures and faiths as evidenced by avoiding arrogance and denigration,
accepting differences and seeking understanding.
of responsibility as evidenced by making and following through on
commitments, accepting consequences for good and bad behaviors and
balancing individual rights with responsibilities to the community.
Civility in dealing with disagreement as evidenced by avoiding
violence and confrontational argument and seeking win-win solutions and
reconciliation. Techniques include active listening, cooperative problem
solving, conflict resolution, mediation and apology.
as evidenced by truthfulness, reliability and being trusted by others.
Courage as shown by doing what is right, even at some
Sponsors of the statement are: Bishop Reilly, Rahaim A.
Al-Kaleem, Muslim; the Rev. Steven Alspach, United Church of Christ; the
Rev. Robert S. Bachelder, United Church of Christ; Rabbi Seth Bernstein;
the Rev. Rebecca S. Brown, Episcopal; Kathleen Cushing, Catholic;
William P. Densmore, Unitarian-Universalist; Sister Therese Dion,
Catholic; Mark Griffin, Bahai; the Rev. Paul D. Kennedy, Lutheran; Ram
S. Upadhyay, Hindu; Fran Manocchio, Unitarian-Universalist; Charles
McManus, Catholic; Nathaniel Needle, Buddhist; the Rev. Aaron R. Payson,
Unitarian-Universalist; Donald J. Peters, Eastern Orthodox; Barbara
Sullivan, Society of Friends (Quaker); Michael True, Society of Friends
(Quaker); Carlton A. Watson, Jewish.
Other forum members include
David Coyne of Hillel at Clark University; Frank Kartheiser of Worcester
Interfaith; Rabbi Jordan Millstein of Temple Emanuel; and the Rev.
Bishop Reilly told the editorial board of
the Telegram & Gazette yesterday that the group visited various places
of worship, including the new Hindu temple in Oxford. The group has
attended services at places such as Temple Sinai, the Friends Meeting
House and local mosques.
The bishop said, speaking for his
church, he would like to see the statement put out to all his parishes
and have people sit down and hold discussions on these values and how to
implement them on a local level.
Ms. Manocchio said the
interfaith group goals are to develop the values statement and see it
implemented at all levels of the communities. Mr. Densmore, member of
First Unitarian Church, said the group has spoken to James A. Caradonio,
superintendent of the Worcester public schools, who wants to use the
statement in a special program for teachers. Mr. Densmore said he
checked with the state education department, which said it is
permissible to teach about religion in public schools.
©Copyright 2002, Worcester Telegram & Gazette