World Parliament of Religions’ Global Ethic Supports Laudato Si’

October 20, 2015

Since its centennial celebration in 1993, the Parliament of World Religions has been meeting five years, around the world.  This past week, the most recent Parliament has been meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah in the US.

There, the participants affirmed principles captured in Towards a Global Ethic, initially drafted by Hans Kung in preparation for the 1993 Parliament and signed that year by Cardinal Bernardin.  The Global Ethic made commitments to a culture of non-violence and respect for life; solidarity and a just economic order; tolerance and a life of truthfulness; and equal rights and partnership between men and women, in addition to harmony among religions.

The Parliament of World Religions has always been a very large gathering, regularly running from 6,000 to 9,000 participants.  In addition to sessions on religious dialogue, the assembled religions also produce joint declarations, such as the 1993 one mentioned above.

This year the Parliament prominently addressed climate change and the rights of indigenous people.  The Global Catholic Climate Movement participated and spoke on the importance of the threshold endorsed by scientists, Pope Francis, and bishops from all continents, prior to the international climate meeting in Lima, Peru, last December.

That declaration lamented the problems and pain of the world today and reads as a prelude to Pope Francis’ recent encyclical.  It speaks of:A global ethic

The agony so pervasive and urgent that we are compelled to name its manifestations so that the depth of this pain may be made clear.  Peace eludes us … the planet is being destroyed … neighbors live in fear … women and men are estranged from each other … children die!  This is abhorrent!  We condemn the abuses of Earth’s ecosystems.  We condemn the poverty that stifles life’s potential; the hunger that weakens the human body; the economic disparities that threaten so many families with ruin.  We condemn the social disarray of the nations; the disregard for justice which pushes citizens to the margin; the anarchy overtaking our communities; and the insane death of children from violence. In particular we condemn aggression and hatred in the name of religion.

The World Parliament of Religions signatories from 40 religions found in the Golden Rule “an irrevocable, unconditional norm for all areas of life, for families and communities, for races, nations, and religions.” Solutions start with a realization of interdependence, they said in Toward a Global Ethic:  “We are interdependent. Each of us depends on the well-being of the whole, and so we have respect for the community of living beings, for people, animals, and plants, and for the preservation of Earth, the air, water and soil.”

We must have patience and acceptance. We must be able to forgive, learning from the past…Opening our hearts to one another, we must sink our narrow differences for the cause of the world community, practicing a culture of solidarity and relatedness.

We consider humankind our family. We must strive to be kind and generous. We must not live for ourselves alone, but should also serve others, never forgetting the children, the aged, the poor, the suffering, the disabled, the refugees, and the lonely.  No person should ever be considered or treated as a second-class citizen, or be exploited in any way whatsoever.

We must put behind us all forms of domination or abuse. We commit ourselves to a culture of non-violence, respect, justice, and peace…forsaking violence as a means of settling differences.  We must strive for a just social and economic order, in which everyone has an equal chance to reach full potential as a human being. We must speak and act truthfully and with compassion, dealing fairly with all, and avoiding prejudice and hatred. We must not steal. We must move beyond the dominance of greed for power, prestige, money, and consumption to make a just and peaceful world.   Without risk and a readiness to sacrifice there can be no fundamental change in our situation.

Therefore we commit ourselves to this global ethic, to understanding one another, and to socially beneficial, peace-fostering, and nature-friendly ways of life.  We invite all people, whether religious or not, to do the same.

In the Opening Ceremony for the 2015 Parliament in Salt Lake City, Dharma Master Hsin Tao invited all to pray for “all those who suffer in this world.”  He offered prayers for “the countless refugees, that they find shelter and a new life. The indigenous people who have lost their roots that they may reconnect with the earth and teach us to do the same. Let us pray for the disoriented youth who have no hope for the future, that they might enjoy a path of healing. Let us pray for orphans that they might find the health, education and care that they deserve. Let us pray for the women of all faiths and races that their faith will bring us together in harmony.”