The Parliament of the Religions held in Barcelona on July 7 – 13, 2004, during the Universal Forum of the Cultures under the motto: “Paths of peace: the art of listening, the power of commitment” gathered people of various religious backgrounds, who participated in a program based on three points: the different religious identities, interreligious dialogue, and a religious commitment to making the world a better place.
The present forum of interreligious dialogue has its origin in the call made by the UNESCO etxea of Bilbao, as a phase prior to the preparation of the event previously mentioned. But far beyond that and conscious of the responsibility that we have for each other and for our society, we wish to make our presence known in this respect, in order to offer our testimony and resources as a contribution to the construction of a better and more humane world.
In accordance with the spirit and principles which we have just expounded, we the undersigned – participants and members of the Forum for Interreligious Dialogue of Biscay – committed to living out our differences in identity from a position of receptive listening, of mutual respect and of an honest testimony, wish to take advantage of the celebration in Bilbao of this International Congress of International and Interreligious Dialogue in order to publicly manifest that, to said effect, we feel challenged in a world that longs for peace. Therefore:
That, for too long and in too many places, religion has been used as an excuse (when it was not the direct motivating factor) to promote violence and war, oppression and repression, exclusion and social rejection. Centuries of confrontation, prejudice, incomprehension and blindness have caused humanity to pay a tragic balance of suffering and death, nurturing an attitude of isolation and lack of communication in religion itself.
That, far too often, from the ranks of those who consider themselves religious, have sprung fanaticism and intolerance. In the name of God, whatever that name may be, freedom has been subjugated and the consciences of those who did not think or believe the same thing have been violated.
That far too often, religions have not been consequential with their responsibilities to civil society because they either have pretended to dominate them by imposing their own criteria and beliefs or they have ignored their worldly needs in honour of their own surreal and individualistic spirituality.
We are conscious that therefore, society often views religion with resentment and mistrust, seeing it as a dangerous and suspicious element that is more of a threat than a hope. But we believe that these shadows do not do justice to the light and possibilities that all religion, once it is purified and understood in its truest sense, offers to a humanity that is running the serious risk of dehumanizing and seriously alienating itself in its attempt to live while denying itself the recognition of its transcendent dimension and the ethical implications that it carries.
Therefore, with the humility and self-criticism which our own historical experience requires as necessary:
WE DO HEREBY DECLARE:
That there can be no true peace, justice and life together in this world if there is no peace among the religions.
That in a world that desires and searches for peace, justice and sustainability, religion can provide a very rich potential in terms of inspiration of creative answers and in mobilizing wills. Religious traditions share values which must be reinforced and put into practice through dialogue and cooperation.
That we believe in the universal brotherhood of mankind and in the intrinsic equality of all human beings and, consequently, in that every person, regardless of race, religion, culture, class, sex or age is worthy of being respected.
WE DO HEREBY COMMIT OURSELVES:
To being a true platform that serves society.
To working so that religious and cultural fear and hatred be replaced with understanding and respect.
To working so that the Earth and every life upon it be cared for and protected.
To living in accordance with our highest ideals, values and aspirations, promoting what is best and most noble and most true of the human being (solidarity, authenticity, loyalty, fidelity, liberty, peace, brotherhood…)
To working for liberty, justice and peace in a violent world and to being a testimony of peace and living together in plurality and difference from this Basque Country in which we live and work.
To working decisively for a world en which we can all live in peace, not just our generation, but also those to come, in a better world where love, respect and dignity toward all human beings reign.
While we, the undersigned of this present declaration, do not officially represent our diverse religious traditions, nevertheless, we consider ourselves representative members of the same, citizens of this multiple and pluralistic society which needs living together and dialogue in order to resolve its tensions and conflicts.
For all of these reasons, we do now stand before our society in order to thus affirm our commitment to peace, tolerance and human brotherhood, based on the humble conviction that we wish to contribute to the building of social and personal peace in the world, in a society like ours, which is so deeply in need of it.
Bilbao - 13 December 2005
Barandiaran Kristau Alkartea – Pax Romana (International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs)