This week in history May 16 to 22

True Father Begins a 17-Nation Speaking Tour in South America

May16, 1995

True Father believed that the unity of North and South America was a providential necessity that would set a condition for the unification of North and South Korea. To that end, he launched CAUSA activities in Latin America during the 1980s and began investing directly in South America during the 1990s. Beginning on May 16, 1995, True Father undertook an ambitious speaking tour of 17 Latin American nations, which included audiences with eight heads of state. In these speeches and meetings he emphasized the region’s “stunning, and abundant, potential.” As he put it: “There are seemingly unlimited natural resources, and the human energies have hardly begun to be tapped. Latin America is a rich, peaceful, natural paradise of grandiose mountains and virgin lands. The mountains, rivers and jungles [hark] back to the original state of creation, the Garden of Eden.” Contemplating “the glory-filled days that await Latin America in the 21st century,” he counseled leaders to “not follow the footsteps of the developed nations,” blindly repeating “environmental errors” and falling into selfish materialism.

True Father hoped to persuade the governments of the Mercosur customs union (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile) to donate contiguous lands for development “as a model for an ideal, international and interracial nation and world.” However, when they did not step forward sufficiently, Unificationists businesses began purchasing vast tracts of land in the South American interior. The assumption was that if the leaders of North and South America, or elsewhere, could not respond to True Father’s vision of unification, they would have to be shown a working model. Thus began the South American providence to which substantial resources were dedicated in the late 1990s.

More events this week in history May 16-22:

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This week in history May 9 to 15

First Middle east Peace Initiative (MEPI) May 12, 2003

U.S. clergy and Israeli rabbis sign the Jerusalem Declaration.

May 12, 2003

  • First Pilgrimage of the Middle East Peace Initiative

At the height of the Second Intifada (2000-2005) and the beginning of the second Iraq War, True Parents launched what was to become the Middle East Peace Initiative (MEPI), a project initially of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace and later of its successor, the Universal Peace Federation (UPF). The MEPI concept was based upon True Father’s vision of interreligious peacemaking and his conviction that the resolution of conflict, particularly in Israel, was integral to world peace. This was especially true for the Middle East. True Father believed that Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders needed to resolve their differences as a condition for the cessation of violence. This lay behind his call for Christian clergy to “take down the cross” and undertake a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to be reconciled with their Jewish brethren.

The first of the MEPI pilgrimages took place from May 12 to 19, 2003, and included 131 clergy. They traveled first to Rome, and then to Israel. The first group went to both Rome and Israel, with the purpose of fostering reconciliation among the major religions of the region. True Father believed that Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders should take initiative in resolving their differences and restoring peace. He stated that the “deep-rooted conflict between major religious traditions” was the foundation for “violent wars all over the world.”

They visited holy and historical sites at both locations. However, their main purposes were to bury the cross and reconcile, at least symbolically, with Jewish brethren, both of which they accomplished. Thousands of interreligious peacemakers traveled to the Holy Land under MEPI auspices between 2003 and 2014. MEPI events have included peace missions and fact-finding tours, service and youth activities, cultural programs, and conferences.

Most of the MEPI pilgrimages have been based in Israel, the center of inter-religious significance as well as strife. This peace initiative has enjoyed repeated success over the years, and initially consisted of 131 U.S. clergy and staff from the American Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC).

More events this week in history May 9-15:

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