Religious leaders from around the world gathered in St Andrews on to sign the ‘Declaration on a Shared Humanity,’ to marks the culmination of the Year of Interfaith Dialogue, an initiative set up to stimulate conversation about the commonalities between the different faiths. Attended by senior members of the Christian Churches and the Catholic Church, members of the Hindu community from the UK and India, leaders of the UK Jewish community, senior Buddhist monks and the representative of the Dalai Lama, the 130-strong religious delegation from 19 countries was joined by 32 school pupils from Fife in the signing.

The 11-point Declaration, written by St Andrews Professor of Divinity Mario Aguilar, incorporates the teachings of different faiths and embraces the basic principles of ‘humanity, equality, diversity and freedom.’

Professor Aguilar, Director of the University’s Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics (CSRP), said: “This is a momentous occasion in which a group of religious leaders, members of faith communities as well as the young declare the possibilities of a shared humanity.

They declared that religion is the solution to isolate those who have been radicalised and do not contribute to the cooperation within society expected by faith communities and the St Andrews Declaration is a particular contribution arising out of inter-faith initiatives and interreligious dialogue.”

Those who came to sign generously responded to the initiative that was born within the University of St Andrews and that will continue with further dialogue and academic cooperation with other academics and faith leaders in India, North and South America, and Africa.”

The signing event formed the beginning of the conference ‘Silence, Texts and Service: Towards a Christian, Hindu and Buddhist Dialogue,’ a three-day series of special events, prayers and lectures with attendees including Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr (Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland), Abbot Lama Yeshe Rinpoche (Abbot of the Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetan Centre in Scotland), Professor Pascal Fournier (University of Ottowa), Bishop Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger (Austria) and Ramesh Babu (Director of the Cascade Centre for Education in Amritsar, India).