Nations large and small receive unity message
SAN MARINO — The Heads of State and Government of San Marino have warmly received a message from the Universal House of Justice which calls for decisive action to eradicate religious intolerance and fanaticism in the world.
The Captains Regent of San Marino, Mauro Chiaruzzi and Giuseppe Maria Morganti, who have the functions of Head of State and Government, accepted delivery of the message at a ceremony on 20 February 2003.
San Marino, which became a member of the United Nations in 1992, is surrounded by Italy. The state religion is Roman Catholicism.
The presentation of the message from the governing council of the Baha'i Faith is among the latest in a worldwide distribution of the message begun in May 2002, a delivery so thorough that it has included countries with small populations such as San Marino (population 26,000) as well as the most populous nations such as India (970 million).
Religious leaders of many Faiths in countries on all continents have received the document.
In Tanzania, for example, the message was presented to President Benjamin William Mkapa, who also holds a position with the Catholic Church, and to some 34 other religious leaders, including the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Islamic Organizations and Institutions, the chairman of the Tanzania Christian Methodist Church, and the chair of the Tanzania Buddhist Association. Some 29 journalists at a press conference also received the message, which has been distributed to more than 560 local religious leaders.
Throughout the world, other recipients have included university academics, and media editors and reporters -- with the result that all or part of the message has been published in newspapers in countries as diverse as India, Nicaragua and the Cayman Islands.
Example of the Heads of State, government leaders and political representatives to receive the message include:
- the Queen of the United Kingdom
- the Queen of Denmark
- the King of Norway
- the Governor-General of Jamaica
- the Prime Minister of Norway
- the Prime Minister of Mauritius
- the Minister of Justice of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- all members of the New Zealand Parliament
The message was presented to the leaders of San Marino by Tabandeh and Sohrab Payman from the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of San Marino, and Lucia Ricco and Julio Savi of the Italian Baha'i community.
The April 2002 message points to a general trend towards unity over the last century, noting that prejudices based on gender, race, or nationality have been widely recognized as unacceptable by people everywhere.
However, it says that despite humanity's integration on other levels, religious prejudice persists.
"Tragically, organized religion, whose very reason for being entails service to the cause of brotherhood and peace, behaves all too frequently as one of the most formidable obstacles in the path; to cite a particular painful fact, it has long lent its credibility to fanaticism."
The message urges the leaders of all religions to overcome fanaticism, to transcend claims to exclusivity or finality, and to undertake a wider interfaith dialogue. (The full text of the message can be found on the World Wide Web at: http://www.bahai.org/article-1-1-0-1.html).
In response to the message, Dr. Chiaruzzi said the Regency of San Marino was convinced that "the conditions for renouncing all claims of exclusivity or aims of supremacy of human beings over other human beings" had been created and it hoped that what had been said during the meeting with the Baha'i delegation might produce useful opportunities "for the achievement of common goals of justice and solidarity."
Usually only one of the Captains Regent makes a speech at such a function, but an exception was made to the protocol. Dr. Morganti expressed his appreciation for the message and said how important justice was and how much it was needed in the world.
In return for the message, the Captains Regent presented the delegation with a copy of their New Year message.
Mrs. Payman had told the Captains Regent that the Baha'is had felt duty bound to present the message as a tribute to the "San Marino tradition, which for centuries has promoted peace in all its aspects and defended peace within all international organizations."
Dr. Ricco emphasized the central theme of the message, the appeal for the unity of religions, and invited the Republic of San Marino through the Captains Regent to "do its part to ensure that religions speed up the process of moving closer to one another." She offered the complete cooperation of the Baha'i community to achieve this aim.
Also present at the occasion was the Secretary for Justice of San Marino, Dr. Alberto Cecchetti, and seven Heads of Council (Parliament).
The message of the Universal House of Justice was later distributed to all members of Parliament.
San Marino radio and television broadcast the entire ceremony and the press also covered the occasion.