By Giancarlo la Vella
The Muslim World League (MWL) convened the first meeting on "Shared Values among Followers of Religions” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with the support of the Vatican, leaders of evangelical churches, internationally renowned rabbis, and other prominent leaders. The forum featured panel discussions on international religious issues, provided an opportunity to establish cross-cultural partnerships among the faiths, and produced an official communiqué outlining the basic agreements endorsed by all the faiths represented.
Cooperation among religions
The communiqué notes that the collective objectives of the Forum were to reach a universal consensus in the context of a shared vision of civilisation to strengthen cooperation and trust among global spiritual leaders, to build on what is shared by underscoring respect for the common principles of human values, the promotion of values of moderation and harmony, giving concrete support to efforts that advance tolerance and peace, and to establish rational intellectual frameworks to immunise against the dangers of extremist ideology and behaviour, regardless of its source.
No to the idea of a 'clash of civilisations'
The communiqué goes on to list areas of agreement for religious policy reached at the summit, including the fundamental role of religion for society, the spiritual basis for fundamental human rights, and the rejection of a vision of an 'inevitable clash of civilisations' due to religious issues. They also agreed that attempts to gain religious, cultural, political and economic advantages without respect for rights or ethics, and through forms of extremism, arrogance and racism, must be opposed.
Protecting family unity
A central agreement of the forum focused on the need to protect the family unity. The leaders defined it as the 'core of society' and called on international institutions - including the United Nations - to protect the integrity of the family and the upbringing of children. The forum also initiated plans for an 'Encyclopaedia of Common Human Values', a document outlining fundamental rights to be protected.
Among the participants were the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, and the President of the Congress of Christian Leaders, Johnnie Moore Jr. The Archbishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Ivan Zoria, also attended the event, as well as the Secretary General of the World Muslim League, Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Issa, considered by many to be the leading voice against extremism worldwide.