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Brisbane's civic and religious leaders gather in St Stephen's Cathedral with the Dalai Lama.
Brisbane's civic and religious leaders gather in St Stephen's Cathedral with the Dalai Lama. Photo: Rohan Salmond

Brisbane’s faith leaders welcome Dalai Lama, agent of peace

A visit from the Dalai Lama brought Brisbane’s civic and religious leaders together in June at a
multifaith service of prayer for world peace. Rohan Salmond reports.

The moderator of the Uniting Church Queensland Synod has gathered with the Dalai Lama along with Brisbane’s other religious and civic leaders at St Stephen’s Cathedral for a multifaith service of prayers for world peace.

The June service included prayers from Baha’i, Theravada Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Mahayana Buddhist, Islamic, Sikh and Christian religious leaders, along with an address by the Dalai Lama, an important monk from the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism and the spiritual leader of Tibet in exile.

Moderator Rev David Baker attended the event along with other heads of Christian churches in Brisbane: Anglican, Churches of Christ, Roman Catholic and Queensland Churches Together.

Catholic archbishop of Brisbane, the Most Reverend Mark Coleridge, gave a welcome address to the Dalai Lama, describing him as “a man in the world, but not of it”.

“You … Your Holiness, have suffered many things that should have destroyed you, but they haven’t. Living the life of a Buddha—arduous and finally enlightened—you have found your way … beyond cruelty to compassion.

“And that is why we look to you today, as a witness to hope.”

The Dalai Lama was quiet but jovial during his short address, pausing briefly to reflect upon the crucifix at the front of the Catholic cathedral before addressing those in attendance.

“We are all born the same, and we will all die the same,” said the Dalai Lama.

“Harmony among our different religious traditions is important because each one of them is a living source
of love, tolerance and forgiveness.

“They may have differing philosophical points of view, but they all convey a message of love and compassion.

“Compassion is the heart of all religion,” he said.

“Friendship is essential, but trust is the basis of friendship, and trust comes only if we show others sincere affection.”

In response, Dr Mohamad Abdalla, the director of Islamic Studies at Griffith University and imam at Kuraby Mosque, said “There is no doubt that the promotion of harmony, especially religious harmony, is of great significance and thank you so much for reminding us of that.

“Hopefully we are able to overcome the prejudices within our hearts and work collectively.”

An earlier version of this story included Christian denominations which did not actually take part in this service. Reference to those denominations has been removed.

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