Multifaith leaders from around the world participated in a conference May 15 aimed at establishing a set of values central to all major religions while expanding human rights, religious diversity, and interfaith cooperation and solidarity.
Known as the “Forum on Common Values Among Religious Followers,” the one-day event was held in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.
Some 100 religious leaders attended the conference. Among the dignitaries was His Holiness Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican’s secretary of state, U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain, and 15 rabbis.
“This conference tackles some of the major issues of our day,” said Muhammad Al-Issa, secretary general of the Muslim World League, which hosted the event.
“Whether it is to tackle climate change, to support refugees and vulnerable communities around the world, or simply to spread messages of peace and co-existence, the kind of interfaith trust and cooperation this event is fostering is desperately needed to support those real-world goals.”
The conference featured three discussion panels. The first, “Human Dignity,” focused on the need to appreciate the essential features of various religions and cultures, in part to prevent causing offense to adherents.
The second session, “Bridging Humanity for the Good of Humanity,” discussed ways to promote global harmony by stressing the values of friendship and cooperation among nations and peoples.
The third gathering focused on the promotion of interfaith dialogue that encourages formation of moderate views that benefit all members of society rather than stoking fear, hatred or conflict.
Conference participants agreed that there is a need to respect religious diversity and recognize the universality of human rights regardless of religion, race or gender. Attendees also emphasized the importance of ongoing dialogue among religious leaders, institutions and communities to counter extremist ideologies, and prevent and defuse conflicts among civilizations.
The religious leaders invited the United Nations General Assembly to adopt an International Day for Common Human Values to celebrate religious and cultural harmony.
They recommended that the UN and key national institutions step up efforts to confront prejudice against religious, cultural and ethnic minorities and create robust antidiscrimination laws. And they urged governments and individuals to help protect houses of worship from sectarian and political conflicts.
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