HYDERABAD, India — Joseph D’Souza — archbishop of the Good Shepherd Church of India and president of the All India Christian Council — will join hundreds of Muslim leaders and scholars at the Second Global Unity Forum, a two-day international summit on religious tolerance to be held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Oct. 25 and 25.
The summit is organized by Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the world’s largest Muslim organization, as an initiative to promote religious tolerance and counter violent religious radicalism and extremism. Indonesian President Joko Widodo is expected to be in attendance among hundreds of religious and political leaders from the region.
“At a time when those who do violence in the name of religion are becoming bolder and louder than those who do good, it’s crucial for moderate people of faith to come together and stand for tolerance and mutual understanding,” Archbishop D’Souza said. “Every religion — whether Islam, Hinduism, Christianity or any other faith — needs a unity movement which calls its believers to defeat bad religion with a better and compassionate faith.”
D’Souza, known for his work to foster multifaith cooperation and understanding between Hindus, Muslims and Christians, as well as other faiths, also spoke on the necessity of a similar unity movement in India.
“In the light of recent developments and the mob violence against members of various faith and caste communities, including moderate and liberal Hindus, India is also in great need of a major unity movement. This movement needs to be led by moderate and liberal Hindus, inviting Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and other faiths to come together to preserve the wonderful diversity of India. India’s integrity should not be held hostage by divisive religious extremists or left to be defined by those who are bent upon politicizing religion for personal gain.”
The All India Christian Council, over which D’Souza presides, has a long history of supporting multifaith initiatives for justice, peace, development and social reconciliation. The council has played a key role in helping resolve religious conflicts and pacifying violent riots in India.
“As the world’s largest democracy, India has the opportunity to show the world how to create an inclusive society. It will be my honor to represent the best of India’s historic, pluralistic and tolerant culture,” D’Souza said.
Most Rev. Joseph D’Souza is the moderator bishop — or archbishop in Anglican tradition — of the Good Shepherd Church and Associated Ministries of India. He also serves as the president of the All India Christian Council and is the founder and international president of Dignity Freedom Network. He is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades for his work as a civil rights activist. Additional biographical information is available here.