By Hannah Brockhaus
The interreligious congress in which Pope Francis participated this week in Kazakhstan adopted a declaration calling religious pluralism an expression “of the wisdom of God’s will in creation.”
The 35-point declaration was “adopted by the majority of the delegates” of the Seventh Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions Sept. 15 in the capital city of Nur-Sultan.
Pope Francis participated in the opening and closing ceremonies of the interreligious summit during his Sept. 13–15 visit to the Central Asian country.
Almost 100 delegates from around the world, representing the world’s major religions, participated in the three-day conference, including Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
Point 10 of the declaration said: “We note that pluralism and differences in religion, skin color, gender, race, and language are expressions of the wisdom of God’s will in creation. Thus any incident of coercion to a particular religion and religious doctrine is unacceptable.”
The declaration also referenced the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, signed by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayyeb, the grand imam of al-Azhar, in Abu Dhabi in February 2019.
“We recognize the importance and value of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together between the Holy See and Al-Azhar Al-Sharif,” the Kazakhstan declaration said, adding that the document calls for “peace, dialogue, mutual understanding, and mutual respect among believers for the common good.”
The declaration also condemned terrorism, called for an end to conflict “in all corners of our world,” and encouraged greater participation of women in religion and society.
“We proceed from the immutable fact that the Almighty created all people equal, regardless of their racial, religious, ethnic or other affiliation or social status, therefore tolerance, respect, and mutual understanding underpin all religious teaching,” the declaration stated.
“We pay special attention to the importance of strengthening the institution of the family,” it said.