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Maria Pammer, secretary general of UPF for Upper Austria (left), with participants of the interfaith breakfast
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Breakfast buffet prepared by the Bosnian Mosque of Styria
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Representing Protestantism, Markus Gerhold (left) offers observations on the character of Mary, Jesus’ mother.
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Agnes Steiner and Eva Reisz, representing Soka Gakkai
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Yoshiko Pammer, representing Unificationism
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Gerlinde Merl, representing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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Protestant pastor Markus Gerhold (wearing a dark jacket) is one of the speakers representing different faiths.
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Participants of the interfaith breakfast hosted by UPF at the Bosnian Mosque of Styria
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Mehmed Becirbasic of the Association of Bosnian Muslims (holding paper) explains that Islam emphasizes respect toward parents and especially the mother.
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Agnes Steiner and Eva Reisz (at the end of the table) sing a song whose lyrics, about motherly love, were written by Soka Gakkai leader Daisaku Ikeda.
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Imam Lopo Saudin of the Bosnian Mosque of Styria (center, wearing dark suit) with participants of the interfaith breakfast
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Participants of different faiths are invited into the Bosnian Mosque’s prayer room.

Steyr, Austria—UPF of Upper Austria hosted an interfaith breakfast in a local mosque with the theme “Motherliness – Unifying Force in Family and Society.”

UPF received the invitation from Imam Lopo Saudin and Mr. Mehmed Becirbasic of the Bosnian Mosque of Steyr, who have attended several UPF events. The event took place on Saturday, September 29, 2018.

Early in the morning Bosnian women prepared a substantial buffet with specialties from their country. The men removed the carpets from the prayer room, so that the guests could wear their shoes into the breakfast room.

After a prayer of the imam and an introduction by Mr. Becirbasic, Maria Pammer, the secretary general of the Upper Austrian chapter of UPF, gave a presentation on the cornerstones of UPF. Catholic theologian Heinrich Krcek then gave a short summary of the five-year history of interreligious breakfasts in Upper Austria.

Then representatives of various religious denominations each spoke on the theme “Motherliness – Unifying Force in Family and Society.”

Protestant pastor Markus Gerhold centered his statements on Mary, the only woman who receives equal attention in all three Abrahamic religions. He presented a short excerpt of the history of the Christian view of Mary. Very interesting as well were his personal thoughts about Mary’s reaction to the archangel Gabriel’s announcement that she would give birth to Jesus, as related in the Gospel according to Luke. The simple girl from Nazareth communicated on equal terms with the archangel, and she made a decision herself, which demanded strength and courage from her.

Representing the Buddhist community Soka Gakkai, Agnes Steiner and Eva Reisz touched us very much with the song “HaHa Yo” (Oh Mother). The text of the song is a poem written by Daisaku Ikeda, the president of Soka Gakkai International. It tells about motherly love and its importance for world peace.

Gerlinde Merl, the public relations commissioner of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, defined motherliness as going beyond the love for one’s own children. She mentioned Mother Teresa as a world-famous example of such love.

She also spoke about a family from her circle of friends who have a profoundly disabled child, and used this family as an example of the power of parental love. Given at birth only a few weeks to live, the child is now 6 years old because of the sacrificial love of the parents. Describing the attributes of motherliness, Mrs. Merl said, “Caring, dedicated, selfless, loving, courageous, considerate, strong and unselfish.”

Representing Unificationism, Yoshiko Pammer, who with her husband leads the Upper Austrian community of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), an organization that is affiliated with UPF, pointed out that humans are created in the image of God, as man and woman. Therefore humans are looking for the motherly aspect of God.

Motherliness covers the qualities of intuition, carefulness, the ability to embrace and to heal, she said. Most of all, it embodies self-sacrifice – “to do without, in love, to give birth to new life.” This is also the profoundest divine principle of creation, she said. The path to become True Parents is a path that UPF founders Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and his wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, pursued for their whole life.

Mr. Mehmed Becirbasic of the Association of Bosnian Muslims said that two Surahs (chapters) of the Quran, No. 4 and No. 19, are dedicated to women, thus the mother. In Islam, he said, respect toward parents and especially the mother is greatly emphasized.

In conclusion, he quoted the German writer J.W. Goethe, who already in the 18th century suggested a common worship of all confessions: “All march united to the church and are edified by the same religious service; they all form One circle around the fire and are enlightened by One flame.”

Then Imam Lopo Saudin showed the large prayer room on the first floor and answered questions about various pieces of furniture, wall charts and the prayer traditions.

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