Two major conferences — one in Brazil and the other in Austria — were convened by the Universal Peace Federation this year to generate discussions about shared challenges and how they could be addressed by international cooperation.
The Latin America Summit 2018, held in So Paulo, Brazil in August, brought together about 400 representatives from nearly 40 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well the United States, Korea, Japan and other Asian and European nations.
The theme of the summit was “Peace and Development in Latin America: Interdependence, Mutual Prosperity and Universal Values.”
Issues discussed included climate change, which is having a major impact on food security and even forcing migration in some parts of the world. Displaced people, political oppression and conflict, as well as challenges to democracy and democratic institutions, were discussed at the event, which ran from Aug. 2-5.
Dr. Julio Mara Sanguinetti Coirolo, Uruguay’s president from 1985-1990 and 1995-2000, recalled working with Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon decades ago and highlighted UPF’s many activities in Latin America.
Despite describing himself as an agnostic, Mr. Coirolo said he always recognized the important contributions that religious values bring to community life.
“You have a cause to fight for. Continue this important work and continue to inspire hope,” he said in his introduction to Mrs. Moon, the co-founder of UPF and keynote speaker at the 2018 Latin America Summit.
Mrs. Moon declared “heaven’s love for this continent” and focused on issues concerning the environment. “The beautiful earth is now ailing,” she said, and as a result, many people are suffering the consequences.
UPF Chair Dr. Walsh observed that “UPF is guided and driven by a spiritual vision, and not merely by an abstract vision but by a vision that is embodied in the very person who will speak at this podium. It is not merely a humanistic vision, but a deeply spiritual and providential vision.”
Earlier in the year, a two-day International Leadership Conference, organized by UPF under the same banner theme, was held in Vienna at the historic Parkhotel Schoenborn on April 28-29. Some 250 participants from 45 nations gathered to talk about issues, including the massive migration from the Middle East and Africa to Central Europe.
Participants included members of parliament and political leaders, religious leaders and theologians, scholars and NGO representatives, chiefly from Europe and the Middle East. Panels included one with Jordanian and Lebanese scholars and political leaders, as well as a prominent Danish church leader involved in the Middle East. Panelists offered their perspectives on the background of extremism in the region, on the factors behind conflicts and possible means of reconciliation.
Concurrent with the Conference on April 29 was a 10,000-person person “Peace Starts with Me” rally at the Vienna Stadthalle stadium. The Longfield Gospel Choir kicked off the program with several energetic and beautifully-arranged gospel numbers, including “Every Praise Is to Our God,” which featured a group of equally energetic young Unificationist dancers who previously promoted the event in the streets of Vienna.
Former Austria Defense Minister Dr. Werner Fasslabend introduced Dr. Moon as the keynote speaker. He said that it is relatively easy to disturb peace but tough and time-consuming to restore and keep peace. Dr. Fasslabend explained that we must first have inner peace as the basis to convince others to create peace among themselves, among society, and among the world. He referred to the teachings of “the late, great Dr. Moon, and his wife” when he remarked that before anything, we must master ourselves.
Dr. Moon delivered the keynote address, encouraging everyone in attendance to become a shining light in Europe, helping to actualize a world of peace as one family under God.
On April 30, a group of the Conference and Rally organizers visited Austria’s Mauthausen Concentration Camp where they conducted a special ceremony of prayer and remembrance of the 300,000 victims who perished there during World War II. Followers of Dr. Moon and religious leaders from 12 nations, including Russia, Poland and the Czech Republic, participated in intercessory prayer for the souls of the victims.
This article is based on materials from the Universal Peace Federation. For more information, please go to UPF.org and Europe.UPF.org.