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Religious leaders envision a multi-faith world of peace

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Over 600 leaders and lay representatives of all the world's historic faith traditions met from November 20-23, 2013 in Vienna, Austria for the 9th World Assembly of Religions for Peace. The theme for this conference was "Welcoming the Other" by advancing human dignity, shared well-being, and a more robust notion of citizenship.

Assembly delegates come from the international network of organizations connected to Religions for Peace, which incorporates 90 national councils, 5 regional councils, 1 world council, and numerous networks of women and youth. Attendees included the range of religious traditions from Baha'i to Zoroastrian.

Welcoming the other is not always understood in the religious context. Ron Kronish, Director of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel, who spoke on a panel at the Assembly, observed in an article in the Huffington Post, "Too often, extremist versions of some religions have supported ongoing war and violence, rather than standing for peace. In contrast, I believe that the values and teachings of the great religions of the world must be harnessed to help their leaders and followers become active practitioners of peacebuilding and reconciliation."

The delegates together released the "Vienna Declaration: Welcoming the Other- A Multi-Religious Vision of Peace," calling on people of faith around the world to "welcome the other" by showing respect and acceptance, going beyond tolerance to preserving the dignity and well-being of the other.

They called for religious communities to protect the vulnerable, advance spiritual values that lead to well-being, promote diversity, and work together with multi-religious networks for the good of all. They challenged governments to protect the dignity of their citizens, preserve freedom of religious belief, and to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. And finally, they invited all people of good will to share in the work of eliminating intolerance and of welcoming the other.

Documents and videos from the Assembly are available on the Religions for Peace website, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter (look for hashtag #RfP Assembly), Instagram and YouTube.

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