Parliament of the World’s Religions hopes to harness faith to address world’s ills
Originally published by Religion News Service on August 14 by Bob Smietana
Thousands of religious leaders — from Buddhists to Zoroastrians — gathered at Chicago’s cavernous McCormick Place conference center on Monday (Aug. 14) for the opening day of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, a historic and influential gathering.
Leaders from a wide range of faiths urged attendees to appreciate both the uniqueness of their own spiritual traditions as well as the traditions of their neighbors — and to work together to address the world’s biggest problems.
The Rev. Vance Henry, the chief of faith engagement for Chicago’s mayor, told attendees that the world remains filled with darkness and division. But that darkness, he said, can be overcome if people of faith work together.
He drew on a story from his childhood and from a parable of Jesus to make his point — saying it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
“If we decided to put our lights together — we can force the darkness away,” he said.
The Rev. Asayo Horibe, president of the Buddhist Council of the Midwest, described the Parliament as both a spiritual event and a gathering of friends. Horibe, who greeted attendees in English, Spanish and Hawaiian, said she first attended a Parliament gathering in 1993, the last time it was held in Chicago. The Parliament traces its history to an event in 1893, also in Chicago, which is credited with inspiring the interfaith movement in the United States.
“I am so grateful for the friendships that have come my way since the beginning of this journey,” Horibe said.
She urged attendees to learn from each other — and to share what they learn.
“Talk to everyone,” she said. “Greet everyone. And go home with the treasures you have received at this gathering.”