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Plan to make Gozo a ‘plateau of peace’

Ministry mulls architect’s plan for interfaith worship site

Richard England’s design concept for the interfaith centre.

Richard England’s design concept for the interfaith centre.

A proposal by architect Richard England for an interfaith place of worship on the sister island is under consideration by the Gozo Ministry.

The centre would consist of a single, shared space for worshippers of different faiths, particularly Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

“For a long time, I have wanted to create an emblem of peace that would put Gozo on the map for religious tourism,” Prof. England said.

“It is impossible to have peace among nations without peace among religions. This is a multi-denominational sanctuary of tolerance, reconciliation and brotherhood of many faiths, reminding us that though man’s beliefs are multifarious, only one truth exists.

“The project will re-echo in time the ancient spirituality of the island’s megalithic temples.”

Prof. England’s design incorporates simple geometric shapes, which according to the architect represent a process of amalgamation between the different faiths. Water, as a symbol of communication, also features prominently in the design.

He added that while the project was still at a conceptual stage, he had received enthusiastic support from the ministry and the Gozo Diocese and was confident that the process would be kick-started soon, with the aim of positioning the island as a “plateau of peace” ahead of Valletta 2018.

It is impossible to have peace among nations without peace among religions

Gozo Bishop Mario Grech said the project was particularly interesting in the context of increasing cultural and religious dialogue across the world.

Describing Islam and Judaism as “brother” religions that enjoyed particular respect in Catholic doctrine, he praised the proposed centre as a means of bringing the three faiths closer together.

“One hopes that the proposed monument will in some way help man fill his existential void and help us Catholics overcome any prejudice we may have against Muslim or Jewish believers,” said Bishop Grech.

A representative of the Jewish community in Malta, which numbers around 200 members, confirmed that talks had already taken place between the community and the Gozo Ministry about the project.

There are at present two synagogues in Malta – one in Ta’ Xbiex and the other in Buġibba – and a single mosque at the Islamic Centre in Paola.

According to reports in the media, the site earmarked for the new interfaith centre is outside Xewkija, close to the Gozo Stadium.

Questions sent to the Gozo Ministry about the project had not been answered by the time of going to print.

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