Archive for the ‘belgium’ tag
by David Meyer
BRUSSELS – A few years ago, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks used an interesting metaphor to describe the interfaith reality of Europe’s pluralistic society. Living with multiculturalism, he argued, we must ask ourselves whether we intend to be together in the same shared house, or whether we are just guests in the same hotel.
The difference between the two images is striking. If we are indeed sharing a common home, even building it together, we need a common set of goals and frank give-and-take, lest our shared residence never get off the ground. Alternatively, if we are just guests who will pass one another occasionally in a hotel lobby, it will suffice if we can converse politely when we happen to meet.
As a European rabbi, I have made my choice. I am building the house. And the current multicultural nature of our society makes me want to find partners of other faiths with whom to share the effort.
But what sort of communal home are we aiming for? We each have identities and differences that we are just not willing to give up. So even though our common European house should indeed have solid foundations and a pleasant ground floor room for all to meet – it’s equally important that we have our own individual rooms one floor up, with doors we can safely leave unlocked. The challenge, then, is double: setting the foundations right so that we can customize our own rooms without endangering the building’s stability, and finding a way to share this vision in an exciting way with a wider audience.
Brussels – the capital of the Belgians and of 500,000,000 Europeans – has been chosen as the host city of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2014. The selection of Brussels was made by the Board of Trustees of the governing organization at its March 13, 2011 meeting in Chicago.
More than 10,000 people from diverse religious, spiritual and convictional traditions will participate in the 2014 Parliament, which will last for 7 days and will comprise more than 500 programs, workshops and dialogues, alongside music, dance, artistic exhibitions and related events hosted by religious communities and cultural institutions. Since the historic 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions was held in Chicago, modern Parliaments have been held in Chicago (1993), Cape Town (1999), Barcelona (2004) and Melbourne (2009). These periodic Parliament events are the world’s oldest and largest interreligious gatherings.
As the capital of the European Union, Brussels is a microcosm of the challenges and possibilities present in an increasingly multi-religious and multi-cultural continental society. Historical and geo-political dynamics connect Brussels and Europe to the rest of the world in powerful ways that have far-reaching implications.
The compelling global case for a Parliament in Brussels was amplified by the urgent need to address the issue of social cohesion in Europe and other regions experiencing religious, cultural and ethnic diversity. The role of Brussels as the capital of the European Union provides a regional and international reach, and taps into widespread dynamics that ultimately impact every corner of the world. The potential for social unrest or social transformation, at this pivotal moment in history, was the final determining factor in answering the question: Why Brussels? Why now?
Mr. Miquel Mesquita da Cunha, chair of the bid committee noted that “…although the established name of Parliament of the World’s Religions is to be cherished, the process involves not just religions but also in a wider sense spiritualities and convictions. Similarly, although senior leaders and thinkers from diverse traditions will speak at the event, the Parliament is very much for people from all walks of life – a feast for everyone!”
In the three years ahead, the 2014 Parliament program will be developed in close consultation with religious and convictional leaders and communities in Brussels itself, across Europe, and from around the world, so that the event reflects the perspectives and priorities of all faiths and persuasions.
The Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, the Government of the Brussels Capital Region and the Brussels City Hall, as well as a number of religious, social and academic leaders and communities in the country, supported the Brussels Bid.
In making this selection the Council emphasized its commitment to continuing a relationship with the other two finalists to host the international gathering. The Council will work with local organizers to extend the reach of Guadalajara as a bridge for the interreligious movement to all of Latin America. The Council will approach Dallas-Fort Worth to consider developing together a dynamic model for fostering social cohesion in the US context.
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions is an international, non-sectarian, non-profit organization, established in 1988 to host the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions. The office of the Council is located in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
For more information, please contact:
- Rev. Dirk Ficca, Executive Director of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions (email@example.com, (312) 629-2990)
- Miguel Mesquita da Cunha, Chairman of the 2014 Bid Steering Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Council website www.parliamentofreligions.org
- Brussels Parliament bid website www.Brussels2014.eu
The 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions may still be fresh in our memories, but planning for the 2014 Parliament of the World’s Religions is already well underway. Recently, the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) announced the three participating bid cities as Brussels, Belgium; Dallas, Texas, USA; and Guadalajara, Mexico. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada will be present throughout the bidding process to audit.
All three cities’ Bid Teams participated in a Partnership Conference in Chicago, Illinois from May 16-20, 2010. At the Partnership Conference, the bid cities were briefed on the CPWR’s requirements for the site selection process and the Parliament event. The actual statistical and financial information from the 2009 Parliament in Melbourne, Australia was also made available to the bid cities who have to submit their final written proposal to the Council by August 1, 2010. After reviewing the proposals and conducting host site visits, the CPWR will make its final selection for the 2014 host city in March 2011. The 2014 host city will be publicly announced in October 2011.
After all of the technicalities of the Partnership Conference were over, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu treated the bid cities to a special address on May 20, 2010 via a live video stream from Cape Town, South Africa. In his address, Archbishop Tutu welcomed the cities to the bidding process and articulated the positive impact hosting the Parliament can have in making their city more inclusive and tolerant. The address marked South Africa’s 10th anniversary of hosting the 1999 Parliament of the World’s Religions. Archbishop Tutu’s address took place as part of the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative’s 10th anniversary celebration, which included the launch of Karen Armstrong’s Charter For Compassion in South Africa. Armstrong, who was a featured speaker at the 2009 Parliament, also addressed the Partnership Conference via a pre-recorded video from Cape Town.