General Authority speaks to world religious leaders

Credit: IRI
Credit: IRI


Elder Jörg Klebingat called upon religious leaders from around the world to “learn of each other, to understand each other’s doctrines and beliefs, to discover the depths and meaning of our various religious persuasions.”

“True knowledge,” he proclaimed, “based on accurate information can dispel fear.”

Elder Klebingat of the Seventy and a member the Europe East Area presidency, spoke at a session of the 5th Congress of Leaders of the World and Traditional Religions convened in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Thursday, June 11. The triennial congress was established in 2003 under the premise that dialogue among religious leaders can lead to mutual cooperation.

Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy, who represented the Church at the congress in 2009, accompanied Elder Klebingat. Other participants included Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Finland President Sauli Niinistö, Ethiopia President Mulatu Teshome and Jean-Louis Pierre Tauran, a French cardinal of the Catholic Church and president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in the Roman Curia.

Some 80 delegations from 42 countries including representatives of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism and several non-governmental organizations gathered to discuss how “dialogue based on mutual respect and understanding among leaders of the world and traditional religions” can lead to “peace, security and harmony.”

In his remarks, Elder Klebingat noted that the founding years of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints saw the opposite of peace, security and harmony. Early members experienced harassment, false accusations and the loss of life and property. “From history we know what it means to be mistreated, misunderstood and disrespected,” he said.

Although physical threats are now largely extinct, opposition to the Church, its members and teachings continues. “Where we are in the majority, we are anxious to do all we can to be welcoming and open to those of other faiths; where we are in the minority, we wish for the same courtesy to be extended to us,” Elder Klebingat explained.

Elder Klebingat said that members of the Church strive to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ who taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

“In order to achieve peace, security and harmony among ourselves, among the religious leaders gathered here today and around the world,” he said, “we must really mean what we say. We should be sincere about each other’s well-being and in our good intentions towards one another.”

Dialogue must be more than an exchange of pleasantries, Elder Klebingat said. “Engaged in with real intent and a sincere desire to learn, honest dialogue will lead to real understanding, which in turn will generate respect for each other. Someone who knows nothing about another’s beliefs has no right to an opinion.”

To achieve peace, security and harmony, as well as mutual respect and understanding, “we not only have to know more about each other, but we have to want to know more about each other. As leaders and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ‘We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous and in doing good to all men’ ” (Articles of Faith 1:13).

As far as the Church is concerned, Elder Klebingat concluded, “we sincerely wish to get to know you, to understand and appreciate your beliefs, ‘to cultivate peace and friendship with all.’ ”

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