Interfaith council seeks greater religious harmony


Bishop Wiehe addressing his fellow members of the council during the meeting

Called the Seychelles Inter-Faith Council (Sifco), the organisation hopes to promote friendship and peace among religious communities.

Members at the meeting came from the Roman Catholic, the Seventh Day Adventist and the Anglican churches, the Baha’i faith, and the Islamic centre for information and guidance.

Also forming part of the council are the Pentecostal Assembly, Grace and Peace Baptist Church, the Hindu Council, and several individually appointed members.

Roman Catholic Church Bishop Denis Wiehe said the council was initially formed around three years ago as the Seychelles Inter-faith Committee against Substance Abuse, and was at first more focused on the fight against substance abuse. But gradually as demands were made upon them, their common activities became more diversified.

By the end of 2011, the committee had made a presentation of anti-drug declaration to President James Michel and the cabinet of ministers, taken part in the Indian Ocean Inter-Faith network’s regional meeting in Mauritius and also in an anti-drug march organised by the Campaign for Awareness, Resilience and Education against substance abuse (Care).

They also presented a paper on Harm reduction to former vice-president Joseph Belmont, and held pre-election meetings with political leaders.

Bishop Wiehe said their group has made significant progress in 2012 with the holding of their first general assembly, and they are now aiming to further know each other for better mutual respect.

“We are aiming to have people with more respect for the faith of others,” said the bishop.

“We are continuing to carry out various activities, such as one from November 11-13, when we will be receiving delegates from Mauritius, Reunion Island, the Comoros, Madagascar and also representatives of Religions for Peace and African Council for Inter-Faith groups. All of them will gather for meetings to be held here,” he said.

The bishop also said they are working to make their congregations more aware of the need to respect each others’ religious differences and orientation.

“This is the only way to achieve and maintain peace and harmony in the community,” he said.

“It is my personal belief that there is a great necessity of an authentic inter-religious dialogue, if we are to work for peace within our society and in the world.”

Aiming to be a non-governmental organisation, the group visions to address moral issues and be the spiritual and a moral voice for Seychelles, create an awareness of Sifco on the national level, and develop a structure for the council, by taking the first step of getting approval for their 19-article constitution which they went over together at the meeting.

The council hopes to be registered under the umbrella of the Liaison Unit of Non-Governmental Organisation of Seychelles.