Spiritual leaders will meet to focus on people and planet

His Holiness the Dalai Lama in March 2009
His Holiness the Dalai Lama in March 2009

Dharamshala: His Holiness the Dalai Lama will join a galaxy of leading figures representing a wide spectrum of global religious and spiritual communities in Australia this December – to discuss and explore peace, diversity and sustainability in the context of inter-religious understanding and cooperation.

The Chicago-based Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions has announced their fifth global conference from 3 – 9 December 2009 in Melbourne, Australia, reported London-based Ekklesia, an independent, not-for-profit think-tank which examines the role of religion in public life and advocates transformative theological ideas and solutions.

The week-long conference entitled ‘Make a World of Difference: Hearing Each Other, Healing the Earth,’ will be the world’s largest inter-faith gathering.

There are more than 500 programmes scheduled throughout the seven days, including lectures, dialogues, workshops, symposia, performances and exhibits.

Major speakers for this year’s Parliament comprise a selection of significant worldwide spiritual leaders, including:Fr Laurence Freeman, (director of The World Community for Christian Meditation), His Holiness the Dalai Lama, (Tibetan Buddhist leader), Chief Oren Lyons ( Native American), Professor Joy Murphy Wandin (Wurundjeri Aboriginal, Australia), Dr Chandra Muzaffar (political scientist and founder of JUST, Malaysia), the Rev Dr Ishmael Noko (General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation and convenor of Inter-Faith Action for Peace in Africa), the Rev Dr Shanta D. Premawardhana (Director of Inter-religious Dialogue and Cooperation, World Council of Churches), Rabbi David Rosen (chair of International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations), Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (Art of Living Foundation, India), Dr Karan Singh (MP and former Minister for Education and Culture, India), and Dr M. Din Syamsuddin (President of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia).

“There couldn’t be a more important time for the world’s religious and spiritual leaders to work together for a just, peaceful and harmonious society,” commented the Rev Dirk Ficca, Executive Director, Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.

He added: “The Parliament will allow thousands of participants to engage worldwide religious, spiritual, secular, environmental, business and educational leaders in an inter-religious, civil and cross-cultural dialogue on important local, national and global issues, including understanding and respecting diversity, peace and Indigenous reconciliation.”

Since 1993, Parliament of World’s Religions has convened every five years in a major international city — Chicago (1993), Cape Town (1999) and Barcelona (2003).

The Parliament of the World’s Religions 2009 will take place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, designed to achieve the first six green star environmental rating, making it one of the greenest convention centres in the world. It is supported by the State Government of Victoria, the Commonwealth Government of Australia and the City of Melbourne, as well as individual, religious and corporate donors.