More than 150 participants representing 20 nations, 3 continents, 7 world religions as well as other religious, spiritual or humanist traditions, met in Nitra, Slovakia, on 25 July 2016, to jointly address some of humanity’s most vexing problems. The Central European Interfaith Forum (CEIF 2016) convened in Slovakia’s ancient cultural and spiritual centre for fascinating interfaith and civic exchanges in the search for solutions to the growing ethnic, cultural and religious tension in Europe.
The alarming trends of nationalism, extremism and xenophobia in our societies, as well as the world’s complex economic, social and political issues, require dialogue between the spiritual individuals, communities, authorities, and the guiding institutions of this world. This is the kind of dialogue, followed by practical action, that the Central European Interfaith Forum aims to inspire.
Accompanied by a policy session on poverty, a lively NGO Forum and a sweeping photo exhibition titled “I Saw All Churches of Slovakia”, the Forum culminated with an Interfaith Meeting in Prayer and Thought.
Slovakia is a frontrunner for hosting the next forum of the Parliament of the World’s Religions (PWR). PWR is the world’s oldest, largest and most representative interfaith movement. With great enthusiasm and great humility, we are working to seize this unique opportunity for Slovakia to go down in history as a meeting place of great leaders whose list might include Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama and a number of Nobel Prize laureates.
The Forum of the World’s Religions – Slovakia is a non-governmental non-profit organization created to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious, spiritual and cultural communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.
Our vision is a world in which:
- Religious and spiritual communities live in harmony and contribute to a better world from their riches of wisdom and compassion.
- Religious, cultural fear and hatred is replaced respect and understanding,
- People everywhere come to know and care for their neighbours,
- The richness of human and religious diversity is woven into the fabric of communal, civil, societal and global life.
- The world’s most powerful and influential institutions move beyond narrow self-interest to realize common good.
- The Earth and all life are cherished, protected, healed and restored.
All people commit to living out their highest values and aspirations.
Our organization cooperates with the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, which supports the development of the world’s oldest, largest and most inclusive interfaith movement, founded in 1893 in Chicago.
Working closely with our partners, our organization seeks to promote interreligious harmony, rather than unity. The problem with seeking unity among religions is the risk of loss of the unique and precious character of each individual religious and spiritual tradition; this understanding is key to our framework.
Interreligious harmony, on the other hand, is an attainable and highly desirable goal. Such an approach respects, and is enriched by, the particularities of each tradition. Moreover, within each tradition are the resources (philosophical, theological and spiritual teachings and perspectives) that enable each to enter into respectful, appreciative and cooperative relationships with persons and communities of other traditions.
We live in a world of difference. Yet, we are interdependent. Nowhere is learning to live with difference more important than religion.
Too often, religion is misused as an instrument for division and injustice, betraying the very ideals and teachings that lie at the heart of each of the world’s great traditions. At the same time, religious and spiritual traditions shape the lives of billions in wise and wonderful ways. They gather people in communities of shared beliefs and practices. When these diverse communities work in harmony for the common good, there is hope that the world can be transformed.
Our organization implements and supports activities aimed at deepening the work of churches in civil society in order to strengthen its moral foundations, promote democracy and practically help people in search of spiritual guidance and solutions in life’s crisis situations.
Our Forum 2017
Slovakia is currently the main candidate for hosting the next forum of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. The gathering in Bratislava will be co-organized by the Forum of the World’s Religions – Slovakia and a wide network of partner institutions.
The last PWR was held in October 2015 in Salt Lake City. A rich program of presentations, concerts, exhibitions, workshops, debates and film screenings provided a forum for the interaction between some 50 religious and spiritual traditions. The gathering was attended by more than 10,000 participants from 80 countries. Previous global gatherings took place in Chicago (twice), Cape Town, Barcelona and Melbourne. They were attended by Nobel Prize laureates and other prominent representatives of spiritual, political and academic life, such as the Dalai Lama, Jimmy Carter, Nelson Mandela, Queen Rania of Jordan and Desmond Tutu.
Bratislava is now the leading candidate to host the next forum of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. The Bratislava Forum would represent the first such event ever organized in the post-Communist world. The event could be an exciting bridge from the past to a new future, from Central Europe to both the West and the East of Europe, from building on an old culture into a new, more diverse, wide open, multi-religious future.
The Bratislava Forum of the Parliament of the World’s Religions will be an excellent opportunity to present Slovakia and other cities in Central Europe, their culture, history and spiritual roots. It will also represent a great catalyst for tourism, business and trade. The financial benefits for Bratislava and Slovakia related to tourism and services are expected to reach at least USD 15 million. A global presentation campaign preceding each such event will solidify Bratislava’s reputation as a globally recognized city and a capable host of top-level congress events.
Significant ground work has taken place in order to successfully organize a global interfaith gathering in Bratislava, which would also encompass exciting side events in Prague and Vienna. We have attracted the attention and support of top leaders and decision makers in Slovakia and across Central Europe for this unique project. Our work has built on a movement by many religious/spiritual groups, NGOs, ethnic organizations and activists over many years since 1989 in favor of more inclusiveness, tolerance, civic activism and interfaith cooperation. We have developed contacts with churches and spiritual communities both at home and abroad. We are involving these leaders and communities in our work, highlighting the unique contributions of their initiatives to building a better world.
Our Forum 2016
The Central European Interfaith Forum 2016 (CEIF 2016) was held on 25 July 2016. The event was organized by the Forum of the World’s Religions – Slovakia and the Slovak Esperanto Federation in collaboration with other partners. The prestigious 101st World Esperanto Congress was held in the historical city of Nitra, the ancient cultural and spiritual centre of what is today Slovakia, during the first month of the Slovak Presidency of the European Union, under the auspices of Slovak President H. E. Andrej Kiska.
CEIF aims to strengthen interreligious and civic dialogue in the search for solutions against the background of growing ethnic, cultural and religious tension in Europe. The alarming trends of nationalism, extremism and xenophobia in our societies, as well as the complex economic, social and political issues the world has to confront today, require dialogue between the spiritual authorities, communities and the guiding institutions of this world. This is the kind of dialogue, followed by practical action, that the Central European Interfaith Forum aims to inspire. CEIF 2016 addressed a number of key issues:
- Migration and Integration
- Poverty and Income Inequality
- Peace and Security
- Interreligious Dialogue: What? Why? How?
Accompanied by several exciting side events, the Forum culminated with an Interfaith Meeting in Prayer and Thought. Please find more information here.