The seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions began in Kazakhstan’s capital Nur Sultan on Wednesday.
The congress convened under the chairmanship of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at the Independence Palace.
A total of 100 people from 50 countries, including Catholic spiritual leader Pope Francis, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayyeb, and Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau, participated in the congress.
In the opening ceremony, Tokayev said the congress, which was launched in 2003 on the initiative of Kazakhstan, has become a forum for dialogue between civilizations at the global level.
Stressing that over 100 different ethnic groups live in harmony in Kazakhstan, he said that some 4,000 different religious organizations are also operating in the country.
“Kazakh lands have served as a bridge between the West and the East for centuries. It has witnessed various nomadic empires passing through the great steppe. The common point for all of them was religion and belief,” he said.
The pope said conflicts should not be resolved with arms and threats, but with dialogue and patient negotiations.
“Let us invest, I beg you, in this: not in more weapons, but in education!” he added.
El-Tayyeb, for his part, said: “We are not talking about the unification of all religions in a single religion here. This is a fantasy. We are talking about strengthening social ties between religions and respect between people.”
In the two-day congress, participants will focus on the role of religious leaders in a post-pandemic world. The congress convenes every three years in the Kazakh capital.
Source: Anadolu Agency