Religious leaders from around the world will gather at the University of St Andrews later this year for the signing of a new declaration for humanity.
The St Andrews Declaration on a Shared Humanity will be signed during the historic event to be held at the University’s Parliament Hall on 23 September 2016.
The ten-point Declaration, written by St Andrews Professor of Divinity Mario Aguilar, incorporates the teachings of different faiths and embraces the basic principles of humanity, equality, diversity and freedom.
Once signed, it is hoped that the document will be used in schools, and by community and faith groups around the world, to form discussion and foster the idea of a common humanity, as a tool against radicalisation.
The landmark signing event will mark the culmination of the Year of Interfaith Dialogue, an initiative set up by Professor Aguilar to stimulate conversation about the commonalities between the different faiths of the world.
Professor Aguilar has invited senior religious figures and internationally-distinguished scholars to gather in St Andrews for a 3-day series of special events, prayers and lectures to be held over the weekend of 23 to 25 September.
Professor Aguilar, Director of the University’s Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics (CSRP), said: “The notion that we are, after all, human beings in a common journey is the basic foundation of the Declaration to be signed and a challenge for all of us in inter-faith dialogue.
“Once we realise that another human being is as important as me and that we all have joys and pains in our journey of life we will challenge any radicalisation as a false interpretation of religious tenants.
“The Declaration, I hope, will become a contribution to discussions on the role of religions against false extremism not only within Scotland and Europe but also within many other nations in the world.”
The signing of the St Andrews Declaration will be attended by Pope Francis or his representative, members of the Christian Churches, Hindu communities from the UK and India, ambassadors of Muslim nations, leaders of the UK Jewish community and the representative of the Dalai Lama.
It will be followed by a public lecture by the Director of the Centre for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University, Professor Francis X. Clooney, and the launch of Professor Aguilar’s monograph on the Christian-Hindu dialogue.
The Year of Interfaith Dialogue was launched in September 2015 with two public events delivered by the Dalai Lama in London, and a lecture by peace activist and Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi.
Since then, monthly ‘silent encounters’ have taken place between practitioners of Christian, Hindu and Buddhist faiths, exploring the theme of silence as a means of understanding our shared journey.
The event has the support of Desmond Tutu, who is Patron of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics at St Andrews. In his foreword to the year-long initiative, The Most Reverend Tutu said: “Our mission is to espouse conversation about the commonalities between the different faiths of the world.”
For more information, visit Year of Interfaith Dialogue.
Further details on the signing event will be made available in advance.
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Ref: St Andrews Declaration GC 070216University news