In December of 2009, Rabbi David Saperstein – one of the keynote speakers at the Melbourne Parliament of Religions told – inter alia – “In a world in which you can do everything, what you should do – the moral question – is the fundamental challenge facing humanity. And on that question, the religious communities have urgent, profound, indispensable wisdom to offer.
From major metropolitan centres to rural villages, religious and spiritual communities are reflecting on their identities in light of diversity and shared responsibility. As globalisation sweeps across the planet and contact among disparate people grows, so too does the need for new approaches, resources and partnerships by these communities.
Twenty years ago, interreligious dialogue was a footnote on the agenda of the United Nations.
Today — in a post—9/11 world ~ it is a key instrument for exploring questions of conﬂict and peacemaking, poverty and development, climate change sustainability, diversity and social cohesion. This change has come in response to the recognition that religious and spiritual traditions ~ Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Jain, Jewish, Hindu, Indigenous, Muslim, New Religious Movements, Pagan, Secular Humanist, Sikh and Zoroastrian, among others — are influential and constructive forces in the grassroots realities they inhabit. They are directly engaged with pivotal issues at every level, from the personal to the global; the significance of the various ways that religion can be understood, and harnessed, is relevant to all. Policy makers worldwide understand that this pervasive and insightful engagement of religious communities is in the best strategic interests of the constituents they serve, and with that understanding has come a fundamental change of approach.
Integral to the global interreligious movement is the Parliament of the World’s Religions, the World’s largest interfaith event.
Hosted once every ﬁve years by a different city around the globe, the Parliament brings together thousands of attendees, from those serving small communities to distinguished religious, civic, academic, political and grassroots leaders. Through 20 years of convening, facilitating, networking and leveraging, the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) has built the capacity of the interreligious movement to thrive in a global context.
The challenges facing the nations of the world are increasingly viewed as broadly shared.
These nations are comprised of societies; those societies are networks of diverse communities; the communities are rooted in individuals ~ and among them, billions of people nurtured in the fertile ground of spiritual belief and religious practice. It is from there the interreligious movement has emerged, with growing scope and sophistication, and with it a unique and tremendous opportunity to address global concerns with global solutions.
The World is Listening.
And for the global interreligious movement and those with the wisdom to heed its significance, the time is now.
2009 Melbourne Parliament Logo and literature © Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions; Images courtesy Parliament Photographer Ray Messner, Flickr