The 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions came to a close on Thursday afternoon, with the adoption of a declaration by most of the over 100 delegations from about 60 countries represented.
The interfaith leaders had gathered in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, from 14 – 15 September to explore common grounds in world and traditional religions in the search for the promotion of world peace.
Pope Francis, on his Apostolic Journey to the Central Asian country, spoke to the Congress during its closing session, stressing the importance of peace and encouraging the inclusion of women and young people in our efforts towards a better society.
Anglican Bishop Jo Bailey Wells, one of the Congress’ participants, had the unique responsibility of reading out the declaration at the closing session.
She spoke to Vatican News’ Deborah Castellano Lubov about the importance of the document and recommended ways of bringing the principles it contains to bear in society.
More than a declaration on paper
The Bishop of Dorking in the diocese of Guildford insists that the declaration from the Congress must not be something that just remains “on a piece of paper” but should be shared, embraced and lived.
Listen to our interview with Anglican Bishop Jo Bailey Wells
Encouraging common responsibility for the principles of the document, she further stresses that we need to go beyond just agreeing to it, because everyone has to “take it forward together” and hold one another accountable for doing so.
She calls for joint efforts in implementing the declaration, noting that it would do no good if it is done individually or as separate faith groupings. In her opinion:
Recalling Pope Francis’ address at the closing session, Bishop Bailey welcomes his emphasis on aspects of the declaration, including the role, rights and dignity of women, and his insistence on the need to build peace in a world where there is war.
The Pope “so readily and then very helpfully expounded particular parts of it,” she said. “I think that was really helpful and I’m very grateful.”