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US: interfaith march “Unity Walk” in Washington to commemorate 9/11

(from New York) “Unity Walk” is the annual interfaith march commemorating 9/11 that has been held for 14 years now, with participants walking down Massachusetts Ave, the historic avenue in Washington DC, where various landmark monuments and worship buildings are located. Marching on the front line this year were the Archbishop of Washington, Mgr. Wilton Gregory, Rabbi Bruce Lustig from the Washington Hebrew Congregation, as well as members of Muslim and Sikh communities, and of other Christian denominations. The march is now a tradition in the city and highlights the spiritual and civil potential of people of all faiths committed to understanding, respect, and dialogue. The Archbishop of Washington recalled that the march began in response to the violence of terrorist attacks. Today, however, it “is no longer a response to violence – it is the hope for tomorrow”; indeed, although there are “so many forces in American society that simply tell us we were not intended to live together in peace or in harmony”, this walk “is the antivenom to that thinking”, for we are walking “together into the future”. All religious leaders addressed the theme of extreme polarization and divisions in the country, repeatedly stressing the importance of performing daily acts of kindness and reconciliation to everyone. This year’s theme for the march was “Embracing the Stranger”, which inspired the organisers to provide the walkers with posters featuring quotes of welcoming taken from the Sacred Scriptures of all the faiths. There was also a feast featuring a drum performance by a female Afro-Brazilian percussion band and colourful puppets, which accompanied the participants on their pilgrimage as they visited the 10 worship places along the route. The walk ended at the Mahatma Gandhi Statue to mark the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth and to stress that “people want peace. They want mutual understanding”, the organisers explained. The organisers also announced that the Interfaith Council of the city will focus on the themes of the Encyclical Laudato Si’ this year. As a sign of common care for the environment, concrete solutions will be offered to improve public transport in the city.

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