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We choose to love, not hate. We choose to give and forgive.

We choose to understand rather than rush to judge.

In our global media world, bad news of any kind travels quickly to us.

Our task as faith leaders is to prevent it infecting our relationships with one another. Sometimes this is hard, very hard.

 

Here together in Victoria we are trying to carry forward the best of our shared history. But our global history also includes much sadness.

Our affectionate trust in one another has been nurtured carefully through the MAG.

But we know the history of the global centuries means it is still fragile and can be easily disrupted.

We bleed when those of our own faith are facing hatred, anywhere in the world. It helps when those of other faiths are empathetic, bleed with us.

Through the MAG we have sought to do this, whenever this is asked and needed. Sometimes this specific support is straightforward and uncomplicated. At other times it is more complicated because close to the surface are history’s sorrows.

Sometimes too our own local faith communities want more from us and are confused by our multifaith endeavours, especially if they are perceived as offering only qualified support.

We know we need each other’s understanding about these dynamics of community life. We know we need to keep in dialogue, so we reach a place which gives us all a peaceful integrity.

We want this peaceful integrity of our relationships in the MAG to ripple out and bring a healing of memory and a beauty of belonging to all Victorians. What keeps us going is that we can see something more wonderful is possible here than mere repeats of history’s mistakes and sadness. We want to keep fostering together in Victoria a culture which is loving, respectful, forgiving and understanding.

This means we want to be risk-takers in love together!

So we can therefore be specific about current matters that need more of our best work together.

We are on a journey. We have not yet reached the place we want to reach.

Our friends in the Jewish community report a terrible upsurge in Anti-Semitism Jewish students in Melbourne this week were made anxious by the hatred they have faced.

By making us aware of this when we met recently, our Jewish leaders have facilitated more sharing by others. There are fresh reports we have received of hatred experienced by Muslim and Sikh students, also visible in the distinguishing beauty of their faith tradition. There may be other religious minorities with similar current experiences.

Likewise, members of Asian and African communities convey the pain of daily racism. We have heard this week of how women from Asian communities are being verbally abused on public transport and in the streets. Again, many of these are young people who are made more anxious by this treatment.

We hear, very sadly, that members of religious and racial minorities come to accept this hatred as “normal”. This is what our Jewish and Muslim leaders report. To sustain their own dignity, these dear people just try to keep on with their lives

They are our nation-builders.

These students, for example, are making their way through their places of education to employment that will contribute to Australia. Their journeys should be unhindered, blessed! Likewise, those adults who are just going about their business. Their lives have nothing to do with the causes of the pandemic or with the headline matters of international affairs.

It is so important to well-being and social cohesion that people feel they belong in a secure place. Many of those in our recent reports have been displaced or come from families displaced from their country of origin. Then too, there are our First Nation people, displaced within their own place of origin.

Hence, aware of these specific matters conveyed by our members, we are planning to gather in prayerful and meditative Vigil to strengthen and support each other, especially those who are suffering now.

We have made our choices and want to stand together afresh, to give everyone more hope. We choose together to love, not hate; to give and forgive; to deepen our respectful understanding and friendship.

Victoria is a great place but by addressing these matters we can make it a better place - a place of secure, peaceful, beautiful belonging for all!

Sincerely

The Multifaith Advisory Group

All Nations Presbyterian Church of Australia Mulgrave

AMAFHH Federation - Shi'a Organisation

Australian Intercultural Society

Australian Muslim Women's Centre for Human Rights

Anglican Diocese of Melbourne

Baha’i Community of Victoria

Board of Imams Victoria

Rabbinical Council of Victoria

Buddhist Council of Victoria

Catholic Social Services Victoria

Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Melbourne

Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria

Faith Communities Council of Victoria

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia

Hindu Council of Australia (Vic)

Hindu Society of Victoria

Islamic Council of Victoria

Jewish Community Council of Victoria

Lutheran Church of Australia

National Council of Churches in Australia

Presbyterian Church of Victoria

Rabbinical Council of Victoria

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne

Russian Orthodox Church

Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria

The Interfaith Centre of Melbourne

Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania

Victorian Council of Churches

Victorian Multicultural Commission

UNESCO

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