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Downer urges pulpit war against terror

Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has told more than 120 religious leaders at the inter-faith meeting in Indonesia that the war on terror will fail if it is not pursued in pulpits, mosques, synagogues and temples.

"I have no hesitation in saying that the gift of faith can fortify us in all our various efforts to combat terror and violence," he said.

The Foreign Minister said that "faith enriches [people's] understanding of what it means to be human and it fleshes out their sense of the sanctity of life".

He said that faith "should inform a commitment to justice and sway people to mercy and compassion".

Some observers will note a departure from Mr Downer's previously stated position on the role of clergy in public discourse. In a widely-reported talk in August 2003, he criticised church leaders for their tendency to "ignore their primary pastoral obligations in favour of hogging the limelight on complex political issues".

The 4-9 December gathering, titled Dialogue on Interfaith Cooperation, is co-hosted by Australia's and Indonesia's foreign ministers brings together 14 religious leaders to sponsor peace and cooperation in our region.

The Australian Catholic Church is represented by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney and Sr Trish Madigan OP of the Sydney-based Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations.

Religious leaders in Indonesia urged use pulpits to fight terror (Ecumenical News International 6/12/04)
Opening of the International Dialogue on Interfaith Co-operation (Foreign Minister's website 6/12/04)
At the Sir Thomas Playford Annual Lecture (Foreign Minister's website 27/8/03)

Foreign Minister
Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims, and Jews (National Council of Churches in Australia)
ACMICA member joins Government interfaith dialogue delegation (Australian Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs 24/11/04)
Trish Madigan OP: The threat of fundamentalism? Some Christian and Muslim Perspectives (Compass Theology Review Winter 2004)

Criticism of Downer list of peace pilgrims (CathNews 24/11/04)

Religious leaders meet in Java to address terrorism (ABC Radio AM 6/12/04)
Nahdlatul Ulama in danger of splitting ( 6/12/04)
"Christianophobia" on rise says Vatican (Reuters 6/12/04)
Religious Forum in Indonesia Aims to Blunt Radicals (Reuters 6/12/04)
Religious summit opens in Indonesia (The Age/AAP 6/12/04)
Pell's comments make Muslims see reds (The Australian 7/12/04)
Canberra lashed for its faith in the US (The Australian 7/12/04)
Australia accused of backing US-sponsored terrorism (Sydney Morning Herald 7/12/04)
Downer kicks off religious summit (Sydney Morning Herald/AAP 6/12/04)
Downer's faith in region (The Australianl 6/12/04)
Religion can fight terrorism says Indonesia (Reuters/ 7/12/04)

7 Dec 2004