During an Interfaith prayer service on Dec 16, Archbishop of Washington, His Eminence Donald Wuerl talking about unity strengthened by faith and belief in the gospel, he said, talking about the Parable of the Good Samaritan: “We will stand together, strengthened by the faith of each one in this room and the solidarity we share, simply because we know how to answer the question ‘Who is my neighbor?”
“Let us never forget, we are each other’s neighbor,” he added.
Georgetown University’s president John DeGioia in his opening remarks for the Interfaith Gathering said that the basis for the gathering was to give public witness to values of solidarity and tolerance in the wake of recent global and domestic violence and subsequent animosity shown towards certain religions.
“Much has changed, beginning with the 9/11 attacks and with the terrorism abroad and now here in our land,” he acknowledged, but he added that “the actions of a few must never change all of us.Evil thrives when bad actions are met with silence, he explained. “Today we’re addressing the silence. We’re standing together…all saying this is simply not us ,we will not be changed because of the violence and the hatred of others.”
Leaders from different religions: Catholic, Christian, Muslim, Sikh and Jewish leaders gathered to unite in prayer against global violence and terrorism.
US Vice President Joe Biden was in attendance too and spoke to the gathering just before the service ended.
Facing Cardinal Wuerl, he said, “You said it best when you said ‘we receive that spiritual power to participate in the transformation of the world, or at least our small part of it, the transformation into something wonderful.’ This service is something wonderful.”
A senior rabbi at the Washington Hebrew Congregation,Rabbi M. Bruce Lustig, reflecting on Genesis 1:26-27. said Man, created “in the image of God, in the likeness of God,” possesses “free will” and the ability to “discern.Let this gathering be our promise: that we will choose love over hate. Peace over violence. That we will endeavor to live as God’s children bringing compassion and tolerance and building for our children and our children’s children a world better than ours”.
“May we act as if we were worthy, worthy of being created in God’s image. This is our prayer. This is our hope.” He added.
Man has a two-fold identity, human and religious, said Talib M. Shareef, imam and president of The Nation’s Mosque. He explained how in the Koran, Adam is considered father of the human community and “gives us our human identity,” and Abraham is also called “Father” and “gives us our religious identity.”
“If you come out of these identities and begin to devour each other, call each other names,” he added, “then you begin to lose not just religious identity but human identity,” and this can be considered “inhumane.”
Concluding the prayer session, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America,Metropolitan Tikhon asked for sacrificial love and for an “uprooting” of all “indifference, suspicion, cowardice, and hypocrisy.”
“Enable us to love others with a sacrificial and self-emptying love that we see in your servant Jesus Christ, who comes to us in extreme humility,” he prayed.