Interfaith Gathering in Rome

For World Day of Prayer and Action for Children 2022


On November 17-18, delegates from across the world will gather in Rome for an interfaith symposium and interfaith service as part of the annual World Day of Prayer and Action for Children 2022, convened by Arigatou International and co-hosted by the Pontifical Gregorian University in collaboration with over 18 global organizations, including UNICEF, UNHCR, World Vision International, Religions for Peace, and others to address the unprecedented rise in the global displacement of children. 

In 2022, the estimated number of people forced to flee conflict, violence, human rights violations, and persecution has now passed the milestone of 100 million for the first time on record, nearly half of those who have fled their homeland are children.  In addition, by May 2022, 10.5 million children were orphaned by COVID.  “We are experiencing an unprecedented global humanitarian crisis,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.  “World leaders must take action to promote peace and address all causes of forced displacement,” he added.

In response to the call by Grandi, Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, President of Arigatou International called upon the faith community to convene in Rome to identify solutions to these challenges during the World Day of Peace and Action for Children.  “To reverse this trend, the only answer is peace so that innocent children are not forced to flee their homeland, said Miyamoto.  “Faith leaders have an important role to play in bridging the divides between nations, races, cultures, and religions,” he added. UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Muzoon Almellehan, a former Syrian refugee will be leading a conversation with children and youth.

This year will be also the occasion to celebrate for the first time, the newly established U.N. General Assembly Resolution proclaiming 18 November as the World Day for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, Violence.

The Resolution was adopted by more than 110 countries on 7th  November.

The Resolution was initiated by the Global Collaborative, a volunteer network of survivors and supported by the Mission of Sierra Leone. Ms Fatima Maada Bio, the First Lady of Sierra Leone is joining the gathering in Rome and introducing the Resolution, calling child sexual abuse a “heinous crime that especially affects girls who are at greater risk of experiencing forced sex and exploitation”.

Arigatou International is All For Children and works with people from diverse religious and cultural backgrounds to promote children’s rights and well-being at all levels — at the grassroots level and on a global scale. “Since 2008 the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children provides a unique platform for world faith leaders to unite around issues impacting the world’s children,” said Ms. Rebeca Rios-Kohn, Executive Director, Arigatou, New York.   

Since 2008, the World Day has brought together secular and religious organizations working on behalf of children through over 300 activities in over 85 countries.  This year’s events include an interdisciplinary symposium, interfaith service, and vigil with survivors of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  “Faith leaders can serve as a powerful force of change, bringing diverse traditions together in solidarity as one human community,” said Professor Azza Karam, Secretary General of Religions for Peace.  “We must unite to promote peace and empathy for these vulnerable people, especially children.”

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Dr. Antonia Carla Testa

Dr.Testa, serves as Associate Professor of the Institute of Obstetric and Gynaecological Clinics at the Catholic University. She is the Scientific Director of the Center for Ultrasound in Gynecological Oncology “Class Ultrasound” of the Agostino Gemelli University Hospital Foundation. This is one of the oldest and most reputed hospitals of Rome.

She also leads as the Director of the Simple Departmental Operational Unit “Ambulatory Gynaecology” within the of the Department of Health Sciences of Women, Children and Public Health, of Policlinico Universitario A. Gemelli IRCCS. She serves as Director of the simple operational unit of Outpatient Gynecology, at A. Gemelli Hospital IRCCS.

And as Director of the School of Ultrasound “Class Ultrasound” at Policlinico A. Gemelli, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome she serves on the International working group on Gynaecological Cancers.

In addition to her global scientific responsibilities, as a consecrated member on one of the worlds largest Catholic movement, the Focolare movement she has conceptualized and led many service initiatives.

Under the guidance and inspiration of Pope Francis she has been convening the very successful ‘Earth Day’ observance in Rome for the past 5 years.

She also led the International Marathon for Solidarity during the COVID 19 Pandemic convening different sections of society to raise funds for vulnerable women and children during the COVID 19 Pandemic. Pope Francis recognized this effort as a Papal outreach initiative and contributed to the significant COVID 19 relief fund.

Antoniacarla.testa@unicatt.it antoniacarla.testa@policlinicogemelli.it