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President-Designate Joins Vatican Symposium

February 2017

President-designate Kosho Niwano attended the second symposium "Ethics in Action for Sustainable and Integral Development of Peace" as a co-moderator of Religions for Peace February 2-3 at the Casina Pio IV in the Vatican. The symposium was organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solution Network (SDSN), and Religions for Peace

The first "Ethics in Action" symposium was held October 30, 2016, in the Vatican in reply to the encyclical Laudato Si' (Praise be to you, my Lord), Pope Francis's appeal, published June 15, 2015, to "every person living on this planet" for an inclusive dialogue about how humans are shaping the future's planet. In Laudato Si', the pope critiques consumerism and irresponsible development, laments environmental degradation and global warming, and calls on all people of the world for swift and united global action to remedy them. The symposiums have therefore focused on eight global problems, including climate change, poverty, immigration, and violence, inviting the participation of religious leaders, theologians, and academics.

Some 40 people participated in the second symposium, including Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, and Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the SDSN.

Rev. Niwano delivered a speech from a Buddhist viewpoint. After pointing out that fear and distrust, a sense of superiority, and a strong sense of rivalry are the root causes of threats to peace, she explained the practice of the Bodhisattva Never Despise. The Lotus Sutra depicts him always putting his palms together in reverence to everyone he meets, even his persecutors. She expressed her belief that if all people of religion act in the spirit of that bodhisattva, they can relieve the sufferings of many people afflicted by terror and anxiety.

Over the next two years, further symposiums will tackle the major challenges to sustainable and integral development. The next symposium will be held in the Vatican in May.

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