At the Parliament of Religions

Notes from Cape Town

When Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was asked in 1993 why he was attending a “parliament of the world’s religions,” he answered that we are told to “welcome strangers,” that many things are happening in the world which people of different religions need to confront jointly, and that Christians can find such a gathering a unique occasion to talk about Jesus.

These or similar reasons brought more than 7,000 people from more than 50 countries to Cape Town, South Africa, in December for the third such “parliament.” The first (which gave this inexact name to a nonlegislative assembly) convened in Chicago with the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893; the second, 100 years later in the same city. The assembly in Cape Town proposed that the parliament gather every five years in one of the world’s strategic places.


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