This week saw the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia. The Parliament is a significant interfaith event with the bold mission “to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.” The history of the Parliament dates back to the World’s Congress of Religions of 1893 in Chicago which, bringing together Eastern and Western religious traditions, is seen by many as the birth of inter-religious dialogue. In 1993 a centenary event was held in Chicago, and the Parliament has since been held every five years (Cape Town in 1999 and Barcelona in 2004).
The 2009 Parliament was epic in scale with around 6,000 delegates from more than 80 countries, hosting more than 650 separate programs populated by an even larger number of speakers. The major speakers at the event included some of the world’s most influential inter-religious voices such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, President Jimmy Carter, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, The Most Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, President Obama’s religious adviser Jim Wallis, editor of Tikkun magazine Rabbi Michael Lerner, and the heavy-hitting theologian Dr Hans Küng. (more…)