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Common Word Conference Brings World Leaders, Religious Scholars to Georgetown

Common Word-Tony Blair

Former British prime minister Tony Blair was among world political and religious leaders who convened for the “A Common Word Between Us and You: A Global Agenda for Change” conference.

October 7, 2009 – World political and religious leaders – including former British prime minister Tony Blair – called for believers to seize upon interfaith commonalities to address global issues of peace and security at a two-day conference.

“The best hope for faith in the 21st century is that we confront all of this together,” Blair said during the opening panel of the “A Common Word Between Us and You: A Global Agenda for Change” conference on Oct. 7.

Speaking in Friendship

“Our separate beliefs will remain. But our coming together will allow us to speak in friendship to one another about our own faith,” added the prime minister, whose Tony Blair Faith Foundation promotes interfaith respect and understanding.

Sponsored by Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and the office of Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, the conference stems from an October 2007 letter from Muslim leaders to Christian churches and communities calling for understanding based on two common principles: love of God and love of one’s neighbor.

From Words to Action

This year’s conference, the fourth gathering of the Common Word initiative, seeks to move from words to action, said John Esposito, director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

“It’s great to have conferences, but the question is, ‘So what?’ The question is what happens after it,” Esposito said. “How do you get a trickle-down effect? How do you implement? That’s part of what we’re challenged to deal with today.”

The opening panel in Gaston Hall set out to chart the progress and challenges within Muslim-Christian relations. Blair and Esposito were joined by Kjell Magne Bondevik, former Norwegian prime minister; Sheikh Mustafa Efendi Ceric, grand mufti of Bosnia-Herzegovina; and Dato’Seri Anwar Ibrahim, former deputy prime minister of Malaysia.

Getting in Tune

Ceric said religious and world leaders face an uphill battle in bringing faiths together so long as people’s minds are not in tune with their souls. 

“We are serious about Common Word. We are serious about dialogue,” Ceric said. “For us, it’s not a political game -- it’s a question of existence. And we believe we have the right to exist in this world.”

The Common Word conference continues Wednesday and Thursday with panels on religious pluralism in the 21st century; religion, violence and peace-building; and the role of international nongovernmental organizations in a pluralistic world.

For More Information

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian UnderstandingE-mail: cmcu@georgetown.eduGeorgetown University
3700 O Street, N.W.
Bunn Intercultural Center
Suite 260
Washington, D.C. 20057
Tel: (202) 687.8375

Georgetown University37th and O Streets, N.W., Washington D.C. 20057(202) 687.0100

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