I very much welcome the UN Declaration, instituting a week every February for reflection and creative enterprise in the interests of World Harmony. The religious traditions of the world are accessible to one another in an unprecedented way and this initiative [which like so many other constructive ideas has its origins in the Kingdom of Jordan] is very timely.
Harmony is a stronger concept than tolerance and opens the door to a symphony in which religions can give of their best to one another and transcend the present situation in which so many people of faith live parallel lives. It is a situation which can very easily incubate unjust suspicions of the other.
Wisdom is integral to the various religious traditions in the world but those who are studying to be wise must confess to their relative failure to establish a global conversation and web of relationships strong enough to overcome the lethal challenges to global peace. Scientists have established such a global conversation and it behoves religious people to be properly humble about their own lack of progress in this regard. Indeed some have responded to the challenge of globalisation by retreating into a sectarian religiosity which is far from the teaching and witness of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace for all people.
Two signs have been given to the generations who have lived after the end of the Second World War. The Mushroom Cloud and the Globe point respectively to the peril and the promise of the century in which we have been called to work as servants of God.
The Mushroom Cloud stands for the destructive capacities of the knowledge we have acquired and the great question of our century is whether we shall have the wisdom to use our knowledge to build a just world in which there is peace and plenty for all or whether our knowledge will destroy us.
The Globe was photographed for the first time from space on Christmas Eve 1968. Our planet was revealed as sapphire blue and beautiful in a haunting picture which conveys the preciousness and fragility of the earth we inhabit. The Globe thus seen beckons us to a future full of promise.
It is in this context that the UN Declaration has been issued by the authority of the General Assembly and I pray that it may make a contribution to a revitalising of spiritual energy in our world.