Reflections on the Parliament of the World’s Religions 2009

Reflections on the Parliament of the World’s Religions 2009
March 12th, 2010

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, March 12, 2010 (By Kusumita Petersen): The Parliament of the World’s Religions, held every five years, took place in Melbourne, Australia on December 3-9, 2009. For seven days participants thronged the brand new and dramatically modern Melbourne Convention Center on the east bank of Yarra River, which flows through the center of the city. At the beginning of the Australian summer, the weather is variable and Melbourne is said to have “four seasons in one day”.

The Melbourne Parliament made visible the maturing of the global inter-religious movement. This was the fourth “new” or “modern” Parliament beginning with the 1993 centenary in Chicago, which gave a broad impetus to interfaith.

Holding the Parliament in Australia gave an opportunity for Australian, Pacific and Southeast Asian participants to take part in greater numbers and to interact with those from other regions. The Parliament is convened on a movement model rather than with official representation and thus it is not a formal, deliberative meeting. It is, however, the world’s largest and most inclusive regular inter-religious gathering, bringing together in their individual capacities thousands of members of local religious communities and interfaith groups along with religious leaders, scholars, artists and experts. Says incoming CPWR Chair Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, “The people who attended the Parliament were not just individuals but interconnected people. They are a part of existing networks of faith who are connected with partners in other faith communities struggling together to change the world.”

The issue of global warming loomed over the Parliament, which over- lapped at its end with the United Nations Climate Change Conference beginning in Copenhagen. Key religious leaders addressed the climate issue in a major panel and every religious tradition offered in-depth sessions on its approach to the environment. The first Convocation of Hindu Spiritual Leaders ever to be held at a Parliament focused largely on environmental ethics and culminated in the launch of the “Hindu Declaration on Climate Change”, drafted by a distinguished international committee chaired by Karan Singh and including Inter-religious Insight Co-Editor Seshagiri Rao, Arvind Sharma of McGill University and the Editors of Hinduism Today. With three resounding “Aums” the Hindu gathering affirmed the Declaration, which says in part, “Knowing that the Divine is present everywhere and in all things, Hindus strive to do no harm. We hold a deep reverence for life and an awareness that the great forces of nature – the earth, the water, the fire, air and space – as well as the various orders of life, including plants and trees, forests and animals, are bound to each other within life’s cosmic web.”

For more of the author’s insightful report, click on “source” above.

Posted in Hindu Press International

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