By Nirmala Carvalho
Mumbai: Archbishop Felix Machado of Vasai says people need to have peace in their hearts if they are to seek to create peace in the world.
“What is required is unity and truth,” the archbishop told an interfaith gathering in Mumbai, western India, on Aug. 13 that brought together the Dalai Lama and leaders from other Indian religions to discuss “World Peace and Harmony.”
Machado said religious leaders must “build peace while times are peaceful. Do not wait for tensions and conflicts.”
The event was organized by Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti, an organization founded by Jain religious leader Lokesh Muni.
The organization also campaigns against sex-selective abortion and environmental degradation.
The Dalai Lama noted that every person on earth wants happiness and joy, but instead are faced by a multitude of problems-many of which are man-made.
“So, there’s a contradiction: No one wants problems and yet we seem to bring them on ourselves. How does this come about? As a result of our emotions, especially our destructive emotions,” the Tibetan Buddhist leader said. “Fear creates irritation, irritation creates anger, anger creates violence,” continued the Dalai Lama.
Machado, who has served as the Under-Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue from 1999-2008, noted that many people in different religions are sick and tired of religions projected as fighting against each other. “Yes, individuals push themselves to do damage to peace. Some do not seem to want peace at all. They only want to live a life doing evil,” he added.
He regretted that the media ignore interreligious meetings that happen all the time, although not all have high-profile participants.
“The media does not publish all the good news. They are very selective, manipulative and distortive,” he added.
Machado, who claimed personal friendships with the Dalai Lama and Muni, asserted that the Church must be present at interreligious events in India.
The archbishop said the government should take note of the mood prevailing at the conference.
Incidents of harassment have increased over the past few months, with various Christians being detained or arrested for “attempted conversion,” and places of worship being vandalized.
“I am asking what could be done to help the government, which certainly wants to go its own way and they have the right to in this democratic country,” Machado said. “But some of their decisions contradict their own way.”
Speaking to Crux later in the week, Machado noted the terrorist attacks in Spain are why meetings like the one which took place in Mumbai are necessary.
“Why these attacks? The attacks are now a ‘new mode’ a new style – take a vehicle, a truck, car or a van and just crush people,” he said. “Who are these crushed? The most innocent of society. This is to terrorize people and keep peace at a distance.”
The archbishop said leaders of different religions must come together as often as they can, and not just during times of crisis.
“Build peace while times are peaceful. Do not wait for tensions and conflicts,” Machado said. “Let people see this – even if a few in number. But if not, even those few ‘who hunger for peace’ – who shall see God – will be gone.”
Still, the archbishop said people should not lose hope or courage. “We must not stop receiving God’s peace and establishing it upon earth,” he said.