Statement on the value of human life and dignity, hospitality to the “other.”

Resolution of the Elijah Academy Think-tank,

adopted by the assembled leaders of world religions

16th December 2003
Seville, Spain

The city of Seville has been the appropriate place for this celebration of mutual knowledge of different peoples and beliefs in December 14-17. Despite the difficult and complex times in the course of history, both the region of Andalusia and the city of Seville have been in the past and demonstrate today, the ability to provide an open space for dialogue, mutual respect and enriching encounters.

In recognition of the crucial importance of facilitating the expression of the wisdom of the world’s religions for contemporary society, the Seville NODO Foundation has supported this historic meeting of religious leaders which has concluded with the following declaration:

  • Whereas current tensions among religious communities around the world cry out for attention, making us painfully aware of the hostility generated by human behaviour and by the way religion is misinterpreted accordingly;
  • Whereas we seek to establish alternative models of human behavior and provide such resources that will encourage hospitality and collaboration between world religions; and
  • Whereas we recognize the important role that religious intellectuals and scholars can play in the shaping of their traditions and in aiding the course of their growth; and
  • Whereas with these goals in mind, the Elijah Think-tank was formed, bringing together men and women, learned scholars of different major world religions who hail from various parts of the world;
  • Whereas our cooperative study has brought us to realize that all our traditions express the highest spiritual vision possible for humanity, as well as noble means of treating those outside our own traditions; but also more human elements that, under the impact of various historical circumstances and a range of human reactions to them, have too often cultivated negative attitudes to the “other,”

It is our sincere recommendation:

1. That we encourage our respective religious communities to embrace the spirit of  self-examination that has characterized our deliberations, seeking to develop the loftiest values about human life and dignity, hospitality to the “other,” and the ultimate vision for human flourishing; as these are contained within these traditions. Thereby we may overcome historical prejudices that have generated fear and mistrust leading to violence and bloodshed;

2. That all of our religious communities encourage their scholarly representatives to undertake such study in a sustained and considered way with integrity and impartiality free from any political influence and control;

3. That such study and reflection be carried out not only within each religion’s institutions, but also in the company of experts representing other religions, following our experience of how such collaborative work can have an enriching and enabling effect, encouraging the best in our traditions to surface; produce appropriate educational materials; permit extensive mutual enrichment and make possible the kind of constructive reflection that can aid our traditions in conversation with one another in contemporary society;

4. That the Elijah Institute be charged with the goal of advancing collaborative research and reflection such as that which we have experienced: thus providing a symbol of collaboration for world religions and allowing them to face together–with respect for their diversity–the broad range of challenges presented by contemporary reality;

5. That all participants in the Seville meeting on “Religion, Society and the Other” endorse this statement and continue to support the abovementioned objectives, with the ultimate purpose of creating a world of peace and harmony.