Born and raised in Sydney, I’ve embraced our multicultural and multi-religious city. From food, traditions and rituals, to celebrations that bring about colours, thanksgiving, and joy. For me, diversity shouldn’t be perceived as a deficit, but something that enriches a society through the sharing of experiences, stories and ideas. The Sydney Statement serves to enrich society by encouraging diversity, dialogue, collaboration and to recognise that the ‘other’ shares a common spirit, the human spirit, that everyone is made in the likeness and image of God, regardless of their faith or spirituality.
In recent decades, rapid developments in technology have minimalised the physical barriers for communication and travel. However, such developments can also bring about misuse, whether to demonise another, or to promote destruction and despair in the world.
The Sydney Statement aims not to build walls, but to build bridges. It acknowledges our similarities but also the differences that exist in our world today. It does not aim to bring conformity with the hope of making everyone the same, but to acknowledge that we are many interconnected parts of one society, where ‘no one is saved alone’. Pope Francis highlights this in his encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic, stating that “our lives are interwoven with and sustained by ordinary people valiantly shaping the decisive events of our shared history.” We are all reliant upon each other, living on this one planet.
This idea of being reliant upon each other was evident in developing The Sydney Statement. We were reliant upon listening to the stories, opinions and ideas of young adults. In fact, what makes The Sydney Statement unique, different from other interfaith charters around the world, is that youth shaped it. It wasn’t a top-down approach, but one that is grassroots, going to four different geographical locations across Sydney and listening to the voices of young adults. The best thing about this interfaith charter is that we’ve been able to encapsulate their stories, experiences and ideas that reflect Sydney’s multicultural and multi-religious society.
As a young adult, this is an exciting project, with endless possibilities. For me, The Sydney Statement gives meaning, purpose, and is ‘life-giving’! As part of the mission of the Church, interreligious dialogue calls us to reach out to all people. When I visit a place of worship, give talks or attend multifaith events, I can present The Sydney Statement and say, “this is for you!”
The Sydney Statement serves as a continuing encouragement to reach out to and work with people from different faiths, especially in my role as the Youth and Networking Coordinator of the Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations. An example of this has been the collaboration between the Ismaili Youth Group and the Catholic Young Adults Group of my home parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, where we’ve come together for Christmas and Ramadan, volunteering our time and items to create and deliver hampers on behalf of Vinnies.
My hope for this The Sydney Statement is that it inspires all people to get out of their own bubble and collaborate with others. I invite you to utilise this new interfaith charter and to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters from different faith backgrounds. I invite you to collaborate with your neighbours to share your faith, love and hope to all whom you encounter. I invite you to embrace our multicultural and multi-religious city, making it even better than it is now. I invite you to ‘build bridges between believers from different religions’.
Youth & Networking Coordinator