Prince Charles Launches Interfaith Initiative

Envisions Volunteers Helping Members of Other Faiths

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BIRMINGHAM, England, APRIL 29, 2002 ( Prince Charles launched a major interfaith initiative calling for all religions to unite in «faith in the integrity of life itself.»

The Prince of Wales was flanked by senior members of nine faiths, including Catholic Bishop Kevin McDonald of Northampton, as he got the Respect program under way.

«Over the past year, we have seen, internationally, nationally and locally, all too many examples of intolerance to others,» Charles told a gathering of more than 20 religious leaders at the National Exhibition Center.

The British heir said tolerance is «an easy word to pronounce, but it seems to be very difficult to enact in our lives. And yet it is such a tragedy that when the various faith communities have so much in common, … members should so often be divided.»

He called on the faiths to give volunteer time during a two-year program. The program, he explained, was about «the young Muslim mowing the lawn for the elderly Hindu lady down the street, or the choir from the Catholic church or Anglican parish church singing to entertain the Jewish old people´s club.»

Religious leaders welcomed the program. Bishop McDonald, chairman of the Catholic Bishops´ Conference of England and Wales´ Committee for Other Faiths and Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations, said: «Relations between faiths are of crucial importance for this millennium.»

Chief Rabbi Jonathon Sacks said: «If this is not an antidote to cynicism, what is? One good act of reaching out for friendship can save a life.»

Muslim leader Zaki Badawi said: «This is the conference of the faithful. But our society suffers from virulent secularism, and with that, racism and division happen.»

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