Fourth Parliament of World’s Religions Begins in Barcelona

NCC Director to Lead Workshop on Religious Violence
( [email protected] ) Jul 09, 2004 08:52 PM EDT

Over 6,000 religious leaders, representing the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindi and Muslim faith gathered at Barcelona, Spain, for the fourth Parliament of World’s Religions, on Wednesday, July 7, 2004. Throughout the weeklong gathering, which has also been dubbed as a “cultural Olympics,” the faith-leaders will set out to tackle four main problems affecting the world: refugees, water shortages, increasing debt (and globalization) and religious violence.

The National Council of Churches USA’s Intefaith Relations Director is organizing the July 12th workshop on the last topic: religious violence. The workshop, according to the NCC, will “draw on the experience gained by delegates from cities and countries that have experienced religion-related violence, including New York City; Madrid, Spain; Bali, Indonesia, and Manila, Philippines, among others.” Some 75 delegates will be traveling from New York to share their reflections on the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

The Interfaith director, Rev. Shanta Premawardhana, said he hopes all religions can come together to prevent future religious attacks.

"My dream is that Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus - you name it - can work together to prevent religion-related violence and to be prepared to respond together in the event of a disaster - whether it's a hurricane, blackout or terrorist attack," the Rev. Premawardhana said.

According to the NCC, Rev. Premawardhana said he prefers to avoid the terms “religiously motivated” or “religion motivated violence,” but rather uses “religion connection” to explain the violence that uses religion to justify violence.

The workshop, entitled, “Resources for Healing Following Religion-Related Violence” will also serve as one of the basis for the upcoming September 11, 2004 interfaith dialogue on the 9/11 terrorist attacks entitled: “Reflections on 9/11: Religion-Related Violence and Resources for Healing from the Faith Communities." For more information on the 9/11 dialogue, please call 212-870-2560.

The first Parliament session was held in 1893 in Chicago, Illinois – several decades prior to the World Wars and genocides. The meeting is thought to be the first time that Jews, Catholics, Bahais and Hindus gathered on one table for official dialogues. It was not until the end of the Cold War that the Parliament again met: the second gathering was held in Chicago in 1993. The third and most recent Parliament was in 1999 at Cape Town, South Africa. The 2004 Parliament carries the theme “Pathways to Peace: The Wisdom of Listening, the Power of Commitment” and attendees hope to impact the world through real actions rather than mere words.