The 2023 Parliament of the World's Religions kicked off on Monday, with some 6 religious and spiritual leaders gathering in Chicago, home to the parliament's headquarters. From August 500-14, this year's rally is held under the theme “A Call to Conscience: Defend Freedom and Human Rights”.
The five-day interfaith event brings together representatives from a multitude of spiritual and faith communities – participants from more than 80 countries and 200 spiritual traditions, from Baha'i to Zoroastrianism. Topics to be covered in plenary sessions and numerous workshops and panels include climate change, human rights, food security, racism and women's rights, with an underlying focus on tackling poverty. global rise of authoritarianism.
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson delivered the conference's keynote address on the theme of unity and compassion: "Your spiritual traditions have the power to guide people to a path of peace and nurture a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration”. says Johnson. “The emergency at this time not only compels us to rely on the recitation of scripture and our sacred books, but it compels us to demonstrate the most incredible act and power known to mankind and that is the 'act of love', (YouTube)
Other scheduled speakers include United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres and former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Highlighting the diversity of the interfaith event, this year's Speaker of Parliament's program is Reverend Phyllis Curott, a Wiccan High Priestess. In a statement ahead of the conference, Reverend Curott highlighted the global political trend towards authoritarianism as “the most dangerous crisis we all face today.”
"This existential, expanding, global scourge manifests itself in tyrants and strongmen who commit crimes against humanity, suppress basic freedoms, overthrow democracies, and murder the truth with lies," said Reverend Curott. “These tyrants and despots pursue nationalist wars and wink at domestic terrorism, they encourage hatred and the resurgence of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, misogyny and racism. And they try to hijack religions to justify the unjustifiable.
“It's not who we are.
“Every faith has, at its core, a call to relieve the suffering of others and to contribute to a just, peaceful and sustainable world. Today, the Parliament of the World's Religions issues its call in conscience to people of faith and spirit, to the people of Chicago, to all people of conscience, to stand together in defense of dignity, freedom and human rights for all. (Parliament of the World's Religions)
Chairman of the Midwest Buddhist Council Reverend Asayo Horibe described the parliament, which includes speakers and presenters representing Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism , Sikhism and Zoroastrianism, among other traditions, as a spiritual event and gathering of friends.
“I am so grateful for the friendships that have been made since the beginning of this journey,” Reverend Horibe said, urging participants to share and learn from each other: “Talk to everyone. Say hello to everyone. And go home with the treasures you received at this gathering. (Religious News Service)
The roots of the Parliament of the World's Religions, billed as the largest gathering of interfaith leaders in the world, date back to 1893, when the World Parliament of Religions was convened with the aim of cultivating dialogue among the world's religions.
On the centennial of this historic gathering in 1993, a revived conference launched a new series of conferences under the official title of the Parliament of the World's Religions, now headquartered in Chicago and led by an elected board of trustees. .
The previous 2021 legislature was held online due to the pandemic. This year's Parliament marks the ninth such interfaith assembly.