Religious and political leaders sharing ideals of faith and guidance.
General Peter Cosgrove AC MC CNZM spoke of the responsibility Australians have to embrace diversity and live peacefully, in his address at an Australian Catholic University (ACU) breakfast in Sydney this week.
The Governor-General designate and outgoing Chancellor of the University was the keynote speaker at ACU’s Inaugural NSW Interfaith Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast for around 200 political and faith leaders on Thursday.
General Cosgrove said it was important to "understand the need to have a determined purpose to live our lives peacefully, healthily, enjoyably and productively. This determination instils in us a sense of responsibility, of accountability, a need to protect and nurture the present.
"We believe we have a fundamental responsibility to each other, starting with our family and extending endlessly through our society. This spirit of generosity may not be uniquely Australian but to me it is the bedrock of our character. It characterises the most ancient part of our society and it is what attracts the newest members to our shore."
Leaders from more than 24 faiths, representing the rich religious and cultural lives of Australians, shared breakfast with politicians from more than with 43 parliamentarians from six political parties across the state. ACU Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven welcomed guests, and Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner and Opposition leader John Robertson both delivered a speech, each addressing the importance of faith and acceptance.
Seven religious leaders from the Buddhist, Coptic Orthodox, Hindu, Jewish, Islamic, Catholic and Sikh communities delivered a prayer of faith and contemplation from their own tradition.
Each touched on a deep desire to encourage kindness, wisdom and thoughtful leadership.
ACU’s Director of Government, Policy and Strategy, Julian Leeser, was the master of ceremonies at the event and said that interfaith prayer breakfasts involving both religious leaders and parliamentarians have not been part of the Australian tradition.
"We hope that this interfaith parliamentary prayer breakfast presents parliamentarians of all parties with the opportunity to join with leaders of different faiths to pray for wise deliberations over the coming parliamentary year," he said.
ACU’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Greg Craven observed " As this event demonstrates, while we are very proudly a Catholic university, ACU is also a public university open to people of all faiths and of none. As a university our mission calls on us to foster an appreciation of the sacred in life and a commitment to serving the common good."
General Cosgrove said that the diversity and difference of its people was a fundamental aspect of Australian society.
"Our communities are made up of individuals from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, religions and life circumstances. To effectively and harmoniously live together we need to believe that our similarities are stronger than our differences. The challenge is to find our shared values. And I do believe that at the heart of our Australian community there is a solid core of vital, accepted values."
Religious speakers were:
Venerable Dr Juewei, Head Priest, Nan Tien Temple, Buddhist Prayer
His Grace, Bishop Daniel, Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Church Diocese of Sydney and Affiliated Regions
Mr Balesh Singh, Member, Executive Council, Hindu Council of Australia
Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence, Chief Minister, Great Synagogue Sydney
Dr Amin Hady, Mosque Leader, Zetland Mosque
Bishop Peter Comensoli, Apostolic Administrator Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney