The Parliament of the World’s Religions (PWR) – the single largest interfaith gathering in the world – commenced its seven-day programme today in Toronto, drawing an enthusiastic audience interested in learning more about interreligious harmony. It was created to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world. The themes for this year’s Parliament are: The Promise of Inclusion, the Power of Love: Pursuing Global Understanding, Reconciliation and Change.
Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh OBE KSG, the Co-convenor and Co-chair of the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation addressed the opening plenary at the Parliament. He reflected: “Humanity’s journey with the interfaith movement has been long and arduous. The world is still in agony and the learning continues. Peace eludes us.”
He expressed continuing support of his organisation, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (UK), for the work of the Parliament. He also highlighted a proposal for advancing and accelerating the work of the interfaith movement, to achieve harmony and peace. “However, before we seek peace outside, we have to generate peace within ourselves. To create and sustain peace, we must reconcile. But to reconcile we must forgive. This is why in a humble effort we are proposing together, with committed friends, a Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation. The love in our hearts has to be stronger than the disagreements in our minds.”
Having heard other faith leaders share their commitments to reconciliation, Bhai Sahib finished his address with a prayer for the days ahead, “May the promise of oneness of humanity guide us as this Parliament begins.”
“The vision of the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation is that the process of forgiving is vital if healing and reconciliation are to take place, as part of our collective efforts to seek justice, harmony and sustainable peace.”
A Seminar on Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Perspectives from the World’s Religions, hosted by the Charter project, took place on 2 November 2018 and was very well attended by 140 participants. They listened to the highly informative presentations of the world class speakers on the panel. Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh (Sikh), Rabbi David Rosen (Jewish), Prof Mohammed Abu-Nimer (Muslim) and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati (Hindu) spoke with great passion about forgiveness and reconciliation in the context of their respective faith traditions. The panel was moderated by Dr Josef Boehle, the Director of the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation.
With over 6000 participants attending the Parliament, with dozens of high-profile guest speakers and more than 1000 spiritual programs, lectures, and interactive cultural experiences, the event offers an opportunity to advance interreligious dialogue and cooperation, responding to the critical issues of our times. The initiators of the Charter for Forgiveness and Reconciliation sincerely hope that the Charter will be embraced and acted upon, to foster forgiveness, reconciliation and peacebuilding worldwide.