The Art of Dialogue

Towards a New Model of Dialogue among Civilizations and Religions


Shanghai, as a global city, is showing the global community innovative ways of exploring the shaping of a new model of integral humane development based on sustainability and cultural diversity. The global quest for such a model requires exploration of the spiritual resources offered by the growing and creative interactions among civilizations and religions.

We cannot see the world community only as a “global market”; it is not even enough to stress the obvious necessity of coordinated answers to such global challenges as environmental damages or exhaustion of natural resources. We have to stress the fact that all our resources are to be shared and conjointly explored, including our spiritual and cultural resources, so as to live our humane condition on the mode of a quest for meaning that induces common actions towards peace-building and increased solidarity.

We are confident that the dialogue among spiritual, cultural and religious traditions currently developing within China will allow the country to make an even greater contribution to the global community in terms of accrued resources for sustainable development, cultural diversity and spiritual empowerment.

Spiritual and cultural resources allow us to inhabit the Earth as responsible, ethical human beings conscious of the creative powers that are ours – and conscious as well of our heavy responsibilities, should we fail to exercise these powers with discernment and decisiveness.

Fostering dialogue among religions and civilizations is one way to nurture both our creative powers and of our sense of ethical responsibility.

The exchange of spiritual and cultural resources fosters creative synthesis prone to answer the challenges of our time. As our respective traditions enter new cultural settings and are subject to new patterns of interpretation they reveal hitherto unsuspected potential energized by the cross-exchange happening among all canons, ways of thought and cultural practices. In other words, our shared values are not universal only because they are rooted into the commonality of our human condition, but also because they are made universal through the creative interchange that occurs among us.

Such process is not limited to the dialogue among the major traditions of the globe. The contemporary model of spiritual interaction takes into account the riches of local traditions, especially the ones of the aboriginal people; these local resources prove to be particularly precious when it comes to foster a new model of relationship between Humankind and Nature. Spiritual interchange is one way to nurture genuine cultural diversity.

For all these reasons, we are calling all spiritual leaders, in China and elsewhere, to make spiritual and cultural dialogue a major dimension of their mission. We think that the universal quest for meaning, the renewal of one’s tradition through the fostering of alternative interpretations and the common contribution to global challenges take precedence over issues of identity-building. We believe that a healthy sense of one’s cultural and religious identity comes through the welcoming of the Other and the desire to contribute unselfishly to the destiny of Humankind as a whole. We think that such a perspective may renew the meaning and the impetus of dialogue among religions and civilizations and the contribution that China can offer to it.