Hindus have welcomed “Pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace” initiative of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.
In this “Day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world” to be held in Assisi (Italy) on October 27, Pope will be joined by leaders of other Christian denominations, various world religions and “some figures from the world of culture and science” to “walk along the path of dialogue and fraternity”. It will include train journey together; speeches, “simple lunch”, “period of silence” for individual reflection and prayer in Basilica of S. Maria degli Angeli; pilgrimage to Basilica of Saint Francis in silence and “solemn renewal of the joint commitment to peace”.
“Every human being is ultimately a pilgrim in search of truth and goodness”, a Vatican release says on this initiative, and talks of “necessity” of entering into dialogue with everyone, believers and unbelievers alike, excluding no one.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, applauding the efforts of Pope Benedict to bring world religious leaders on a single platform for the cause of peace, said that “it was a step in the right direction”.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that serious and honest interfaith dialogue was the need of the hour. It was wonderful that Pope, leader of the largest religious organization of the world, was taking the lead in organizing such a much-needed summit and bringing major world religions and denominations together for reflection, dialogue, prayer, fraternity and commitment to peace.
Rajan Zed suggested Pope to make this gathering an annual feature. Religion was the most powerful, complex and far-reaching force in our society, so we must take it seriously. And we all knew that religion comprised much more than our own particular tradition/experience, Zed stressed.
Zed further says that this dialogue may help us vanquish the stereotypes, prejudices, caricatures, etc., passed on to us from previous generations. As dialogue brings us reciprocal enrichment, we shall also be spiritually richer than before the contact.
Pope Benedict heads the Roman Catholic Church, which is the largest of the Christian denominations. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.