Parliament of the World’s Religions

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“The curtain has descended on this present session of the Parliament, yet the momentum of our inter-religious enterprise endures, in communion, as community, steadfastly illuminating the path ahead.”

(Cecilia O’Dwyer ibvm)

Parliament attendees Sarah, Rudolph, Kathy Murtha, Yusra Shafi, Audrey Ferrer  (Mary Wary Ward Centre, Toronto), Cynthia Matthew, Janet Palafox, Riya Bhargava (UNNGO, New York), Andy Wells, Arlene Ashack, Jean Okroi ((USA), Ana Gimeno, Cecilia O’Dwyer (Spain) will share more on the content and experience of the Parliament in the near future.

Several members and friends of the Mary Ward Family participated in the Parliament of World Religions, held in Chicago from August 14th to 20th, 2023. This noteworthy assembly stands as the preeminent and all-encompassing interfaith platform for discourse and communal engagement, distinguished by its global scale, diversity, and inclusivity. A sincere expression of gratitude is extended to the City of Chicago, the very birthplace of the interfaith movement since its inception in 1898, for its gracious hosting and endorsement of this gathering within the confines of a visually appealing Conference Centre overlooking Lake Michigan’s tranquil shores.

Assembled in the cradle of the contemporary interfaith movement and imbued with a conscious awareness of the progressive strides made in fostering respect and mutual comprehension through collaborative endeavors, the current session of the Parliament emanated a resonant Call to Conscience amongst its participants. The overarching theme that guided these deliberations was the advocacy for the preservation of Freedom and the safeguarding of Human Rights. This thematic fabric was thoughtfully woven into a tapestry encompassing diverse realms and concerns beginning with the profound wisdom Indigenous peoples so relevant today, and embracing some 800 spaces for dialogue and faith experience.

The summons to conscience reverberates as a celebration of humanity’s awakening, realized through a multiplicity of avenues. The growing consciousness of our roles as stewards of Earth and the pivotal agency we possess in steering ourselves towards either devastation or the flourishing of existence underscores the urgency. An imperative exists to breathe vitality into our foundational frameworks – be they constitutional, declarative, or guiding. Complementing our sacred texts and rituals, the maturation of conscience must be contextualized. Esteemed figures, ranging from Rabbis and pastors to priests, entrepreneurs, and political activists, illuminated this awakening of awareness and moral duty, particularly in confronting authoritative regimes that disregard the inalienable human rights of all, as well as the burgeoning rights of non-sentient beings and resources on our shared planetary abode.

The occasion also facilitated our engagement with updates and opportunities pertaining to the ongoing revision of “A Global Ethic,” a seminal pronouncement originated by the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1989. This document articulates universal values and principles, serving as a compass shared among the world’s religious, spiritual, and cultural traditions.

Manifesting through two Assemblies and an array exceeding 80 workshops, the pressing concern for our planetary circumstances, particularly in relation to climate change and interconnected biodiversity, gained prominence. The diverse avenues through which adherents of varying faiths are tirelessly working to mitigate and adapt to these challenges were expounded – spanning from dietary choices and architectural eco-consciousness to prudent investments and international advocacy.

The nexus between women and religion has undergone rigorous examination across several recent sessions of the Parliament. From overt oppression under certain regimes to subtler yet enduring forms, these matters were thoughtfully addressed within the precincts of a Women’s Plenary, designated forums, and multiple workshops.

Participation in insightful sessions introduced us to various religious rituals and prayers, enriching the experiential fabric. The interplay of music and art further heightened the collective appreciation of shared sacred narratives, our human condition, the spectrum of human experience, and the fragility that envelops our world. Against the backdrop of the boundless Cosmos, where Mystery and the Sacred coalesce to expand horizons beyond imagination’s confines, these expressions of unity unfolded.

The Mary Ward Centre of Toronto and the UNNGO Office offered a workshop titled “Intergenerational Conversations that Matter.” Spearheaded by three enterprising young women, a dynamic and diverse assembly engaged in dialogues spanning Mental Health Issues, the ecological tapestry of Climate, and the Challenges to Democracy. This commendable contribution to the Parliament along with our presence in different forums evoked admiration for the praiseworthy interreligious endeavors undertaken at the Mary Ward Center, Toronto.

The curtain has descended on this present session of the Parliament, yet the momentum of our interreligious enterprise endures, in communion, as community, steadfastly illuminating the path ahead.

Cecilia O’Dwyer ibvm

watch recording of recent webinar here