interfaith prayer handsFor many, interfaith work has one over-riding purpose: to bring peace to the planet. Peaceful communities can help build peace in the world. Interfaith work in the UK has a strong tradition of developing understanding of each others traditions, and growing peace and tolerance . Such virtues are at the heart of all true religions and they are gifts that can be shared with society. Religious divides are fuelled by fear and misunderstanding and rarely reflect the reality of those who live with an open-hearted faith. In West Wales, there is relatively little exposure to people of most other faiths, but there is a great need for awareness of the beliefs of other faiths in this divided world.

Don was the Interfaith Officer for St David’s Diocese in the Church in Wales up until 2014. He is an advocate of the Charter for Compassion, which states the following:

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.

We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

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