Vienna's Mayor Establishes "Council of Religions" to Foster Interfaith Dialogue and Peace

Lifestyle & TravelMore+ ♦ Published: October 19, 2023; 21:15 ♦ (Vindobona)

Vienna's Mayor, Michael Ludwig, convened a significant meeting at the cityhall, bringing together representatives from diverse religious groups in response to recent developments in the Middle East. These events underscore the vital role of religious tolerance and understanding in maintaining peaceful coexistence in society.

The mayor of the city of Vienna, Michael Ludwig, met with representatives from a number of different religions. / Picture: © Magistrat der Stadt Wien / Christian Jobst / PID

Ludwig highlighted Vienna's historical commitment to tolerance and openness, citing its standing in international diplomacy and its hosting of various global organizations, including the United Nations. Expressing deep concern for ongoing conflicts, Ludwig emphasized that wars and terrorism can never be sustainable solutions. While acknowledging Vienna's inability to resolve Middle Eastern conflicts directly, he stressed the city's commitment to setting a positive example of peaceful coexistence.

Vienna is already known for its efforts to ensure harmonious living among its residents, regardless of their religious affiliations. Ludwig underscored the importance of interfaith dialogue in achieving this goal and proposed the establishment of an independent "Vienna Council of Religions." This council would engage various religious communities, including the Roman Catholic Church, Islamic faith, and Jewish community, aiming to promote unity and tolerance.

The Vienna Council of Religions would facilitate regular meetings to encourage respectful interactions between different faiths and work towards common positions on issues related to peaceful coexistence. Mayor Ludwig stated, "As Vienna's Mayor, I work daily to promote peaceful coexistence and social cohesion in our city. I am pleased that we are taking steps to create the Vienna Council of Religions."

The newly formed council will directly advise Mayor Ludwig and the city of Vienna, providing recommendations to enhance community harmony. Initially, the council plans to convene twice a year, with the potential for more frequent meetings based on emerging needs.

In light of recent global events and the potential for local tensions, this initiative aims to solidify Vienna's reputation as a city of peace, emphasizing that the city stands united against any form of discrimination or hostility. Ludwig envisions promoting these values not only in civic life but also in education, culture, and sports.

Mayor Ludwig assured that the Vienna Council of Religions will complement, not compete with, national institutions. The council's larger meetings are set to occur at least biannually, with the flexibility to hold additional gatherings if required. Vienna's commitment to fostering interfaith understanding and peace remains unwavering, setting an example for other communities around the world.

City of Vienna