Friday, July 11, 2008

Interfaith Conference in Madrid

I know the Beijing Olympics is right around the corner. However, that is hardly the only important international event of the summer. Come 16 July there will be an interfaith conference in Madrid Spain. The conference is hosted by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The fact that the ruler of a nation associated with the Wahhabism School of Sunni Islam, the nation that is the birthplace of Islam and the center of the faith cannot be stressed enough.This is an important conference and an important step in a series of steps toward greater dialog and closer relations between faith communities. Spain seems a very wise choice since it is a bridge between the Christian culture of Europe and the Islamic culture of northern Africa.

The conference will bring together members of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. The purpose of the conference is to stress the core beliefs the world religions hold in common. The king believes that if members of each faith actually stay true to the core values of their faiths then peace may be achieved, families strengthened and a cultural war avoided.

The conference will bring together leaders in a variety of fields or disciplines. That includes theologians, political scientists, political leaders, behavioral scientists and advocates for human rights.

The Vatican is not neutral in this endeavor. Recognizing the importance of the conference the Vatican is dispatching its top leader in interfaith dialog, Cardinal Tauran.

Israeli Rabbi David Rosen, the president of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations will be attending the conference. In fact the conference will have approximately 200 attendees from many faiths and nations. It is planned as only one of a series of conferences to promote interfaith cooperation and dialogue.

This conference is too important to be ignored or viewed simply as a curiosity. The world is hemorrhaging. The cries of crisis are all too common. From religious conflicts to human rights violations to a planet facing an ecological disaster the world needs for its leaders to be able to talk and to listen to one another. If our religious leaders cannot do this then how can we expect our secular leaders to talk to one another in peace and with respect? We must pray for their success no matter how long it may take.

No comments: