Havel calls on world religions to unite in "spiritual coalition"

St Vitus Cathedral

St Vitus Cathedral, situated in the heart of Prague Castle, witnessed a gathering of the world's major faiths on Tuesday evening, with speeches and sermons from representatives of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Hinduism. They were brought together in a "multi-religious assembly", part of the Forum 2000 conference currently underway at the Castle. Both the Forum and the assembly were the brainchild of President Vaclav Havel, and as Rob Cameron reports, Mr Havel used the opportunity to call for the world's religions to unite in a new "spiritual coalition".

The multi-faith assembly has become a traditional feature of Forum 2000 over the past years, with the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalaj Lama making a particularly strong impression on the audience. Unfortunately he had to cancel his visit to Prague for security concerns, but St Vitus Cathedral still rang out on Tuesday to prayers and words of wisdom from throughout the world. Islamic scholar Sheikh Abbas Mohajerani read from the Koran, and his call for peace and understanding between peoples was echoed by Rabbi Albert Friedlander from London, Hindu priest Om Prakash Sharma and representatives of the Catholic and Protestant churches in the Czech Republic. The man responsible for bringing them all together was President Vaclav Havel. He used the occasion to call on the world's religions to create a "spiritual coalition" to counter the negative aspects of globalisation:

"We believe the time has now come to create a grand spiritual coalition, which would deepen the existing attempts at co-operation between the world's religions. The aim of this coalition would be to fight - together - the forces of evil, in the name of respect for life and human dignity, brotherhood and equality of nations, and with an eye to the interests of the generations to come."

President Vaclav Havel, who said the attacks on the United States had shown how rapidly evil could be globalised, adding that it was now time to act to globalise good.