Celebrating the 2004 Parliament theme of Pathways to Peace: the Wisdom of Listening, the Power of Commitment, the evening plenary gatherings were filled with beauty and inspiration. Plenaries featured greetings, blessings and keynote addresses from revered religious and spiritual leaders, as well as sacred observances, celebrations and performances.

Opening Plenary–Wednesday, July 7

The 2004 Parliament opened with an outdoor procession that included the dedication of a World Peace Pole, the lighting of a World Peace Flame and the ceremonial planting of a Tree of Peace by Chief Jake Swamp of the Mohawk Nation. Inside the Forum Auditorium, the 2004 Parliament officially convened with offerings from inspiring leaders Chief Jake Swamp and artists from around the world.

“Religion should not divorce itself from public life. We have to take a stance. It is a risk because we may make a mistake, but we have to commit to one thing or another.”

—Raimon Panikkar, Catalonian philosopher

Barcelona Plenary–Thursday, July 8 

This evening celebrated Barcelona’s embrace of a new approach to religious and spiritual diversity. It also highlighted the transformative contributions of the local interreligious movement to Catalan society and the Parliament gathering. Featured were a performance of the Catalan Peace Anthem by Jordi Savall, testimonials by local interreligious practitioners, and a display of the Catalan Human Tower.

“We do not want an imposed peace, a peace full of fears...All we want is fair peace. Peace doesn’t fall the sky. We have to build it.”

—Joan Clos, Former Mayor of Barcelona

The International Plenary–Monday, July 12

Recognition of the worldwide interreligious movement, the Parliament highlighted the contribution of religious and spiritual communities to a just, peaceful and sustainable future. The inaugural Carus Award for Outstanding Contributions to the International Interreligious Movement was given to the Acholi Religious’ Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) for its courageous work for reconciliation in the midst of the civil war in northern Uganda.

Closing Plenary–Tuesday, July 13

The healing power of religious and interreligious responses to a world gripped by need and fear brought the 2004 Parliament experience to a somber yet hopeful close. Young people publicly shared their commitment to work for peace upon their return home. A concluding moment of silence expressed remembrance for victims of the tragic March 11, 2004 train bombing in Madrid and solidarity with victims of terror everywhere.

“Our security can only come by using our national wealth…for the health and welfare of our people. We should take our example from leaders…whose first thoughts are not violence, but healing, not vengeance, but compassion.” —Dharma Master Hsin Tao Museum of World Religions, Taipei