| Brussels – the capital of the Belgians and of 500,000,000 Europeans – has been chosen as the host city of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2014. The selection of Brussels was made by the Board of Trustees of the governing organization at its March 13, 2011 meeting in Chicago.
More than 10,000 people from diverse religious, spiritual and convictional traditions will participate in the 2014 Parliament, which will last for 7 days and will comprise more than 500 programs, workshops and dialogues, alongside music, dance, artistic exhibitions and related events hosted by religious communities and cultural institutions. Since the historic 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions was held in Chicago, modern Parliaments have been held in Chicago (1993), Cape Town (1999), Barcelona (2004) and Melbourne (2009). These periodic Parliament events are the world’s oldest and largest interreligious gatherings.
As the capital of the European Union, Brussels is a microcosm of the challenges and possibilities present in an increasingly multi-religious and multi-cultural continental society. Historical and geo-political dynamics connect Brussels and Europe to the rest of the world in powerful ways that have far-reaching implications.
The compelling global case for a Parliament in Brussels was amplified by the urgent need to address the issue of social cohesion in Europe and other regions experiencing religious, cultural and ethnic diversity. The role of Brussels as the capital of the European Union provides a regional and international reach, and taps into widespread dynamics that ultimately impact every corner of the world. The potential for social unrest or social transformation, at this pivotal moment in history, was the final determining factor in answering the question: Why Brussels? Why now?
Mr. Miquel Mesquita da Cunha, chair of the bid committee noted that “…although the established name of Parliament of the World’s Religions is to be cherished, the process involves not just religions but also in a wider sense spiritualities and convictions. Similarly, although senior leaders and thinkers from diverse traditions will speak at the event, the Parliament is very much for people from all walks of life – a feast for everyone!”
In the three years ahead, the 2014 Parliament program will be developed in close consultation with religious and convictional leaders and communities in Brussels itself, across Europe, and from around the world, so that the event reflects the perspectives and priorities of all faiths and persuasions.
The Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, the Government of the Brussels Capital Region and the Brussels City Hall, as well as a number of religious, social and academic leaders and communities in the country, supported the Brussels Bid.
In making this selection the Council emphasized its commitment to continuing a relationship with the other two finalists to host the international gathering. The Council will work with local organizers to extend the reach of Guadalajara as a bridge for the interreligious movement to all of Latin America. The Council will approach Dallas-Fort Worth to consider developing together a dynamic model for fostering social cohesion in the US context.
The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions is an international, non-sectarian, non-profit organization, established in 1988 to host the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions. The office of the Council is located in Chicago, Illinois, USA.