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14 / 07 / 2004
Dirk Ficca: “This has been a practical Parliament rather than an analytic one, and we have achieved 500 commitments with society”

Reverend Dirk Ficca, executive director of the Parliament of the World’s Religions stated that the 4th Parliament of Barcelona would transmit a legacy of cooperation among the interreligious community. Ficca pointed out that the Parliament has been more practical than analytic in order to get greater involvement with the problems of refugees, globalization, clean water, foreign debt and religious violence and also announced the Parliamentary Council’s “satisfaction with the results” and their firm support and follow-up of the 500 commitments adopted. “Barcelona has met our expectations.”

The Presbyterian pastor and executive director since 1998 of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, reverend Dirk Ficca, stated “the overall objectives of this Parliament of Religions have been met, not only in terms of diversity of representation of the 85 participating countries but also, and most importantly, for the 500 commitments achieved, even if some of the programs were not dealt with as exhaustively as desired.”

“We believed that opting for a single theme, “Global Ethics, as we did in the Parliament held in Cape Town was a reductionist approach. The Barcelona Parliament chose a practical approach rather than an analytic one because we wanted to see how the different religions involved with the issues of water, foreign debt, refugees, violence and religion. We wanted people committed with the problems,” responded Ficca when questioned by the BBC with regard to the lack of an in-depth analysis during the Parliament.

Ficca expressed his “being in love with Barcelona” and highlighted, “Barcelona has met our expectations because we wanted a host country that would more involved with the Parliament, and this has been achieved. The Council is extremely satisfied. Of the 8,400 participants, 30 to 40% came from Spain.

Ficca, also emphasized the great importance of the Montserrat Assembly and stated, “all commitments made will be supported and followed-up with documents on the Internet and with a handbook of good practices.” He also mentioned that between 60 and 70 cities of the world have agreed on plans for town-twinning.

When asked whether Barcelona would eventually be designated the permanent seat of the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Ficca said, “New York can become the center for interreligious education,” and the “Unesco center in Catalonia would constitute a resource for the interreligious movement worldwide. We will see in the next six months if we can transfer Barcelona’s legacy of cooperation among the interreligious community.”

Youth also took active part in the Parliament with representatives in the round tables, “contributing to the program with their passion, ideals and open-mindedness,” said Ficca.

For his part, Fèlix Martí, director of the local technical office of the Parliament of the World’s Religions and honorary president of Unesco in Catalonia said, “the three organizing groups feel that all the participants were very satisfied.” Martí offered some personal conclusions summarized in five points that highlighted, “the unanimous refusal of violence by all religions, especially violence that appeal to religion to justify its acts. We affirm that we are against violence and for the liberation of the poor.”

He also pointed out, “ all religions know that they are going through a period of change, but they do not resent this because it is good to change as long as it does not imply giving up their inspiration of their beginnings; change allows them to renew and reinterpret their beliefs.”

Fèlix Martí pointed in his last three conclusions “the good mood and conviviality at work among the 8,500 people of the Parliament is a refutation of the argument of the clash of civilizations and religions, as all religions coincided in the fact that they want to be extrovert, carrying out work that reaches out for society in general and not only for the followers or believers; they also reaffirm their faith in a pluralist of society and are not nostalgic for past situations of privilege, while they feel comfortable with secular societies that love freedom of belief and of conscience. Religions want to offer values and are in favor of a choice of religions in a cultural sense and not solely for purposes of catechesis.”