Living in community: the goal of Christian-Muslim dialogue
20 October 2008
"Living together in community must take the centre stage of Christian-Muslim dialogue," said Catholicos Aram I at the opening of an 18-20 October ecumenical consultation aimed at developing a common Christian theological understanding of dialogue with Islam.
"The prevailing misperceptions, ambiguities, polarizations, tensions and collision [of values between Muslims and Christians], hijacked and sharpened by politico-ideological agendas and geo-political strategies, can be transformed only through a shared life in community," stated Aram I, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church (See of Cilicia), in delivering the key-note speech of the consultation.
For Aram I, such a "community building must take place on the basis of equal rights and obligations, as well as full and active participation in all aspects of society life, including decision-making". It "presupposes a quality of integration that provides equal opportunities, ensures diversity and enhances mutual acceptance".
Among the "divisive issues" to be addressed, Aram I listed how both religions deal with the relationship between faith and reason, the response to secularism, the concept of mission and the tension between human rights and Islamic law.
Having a "rich history" of Christian-Muslim dialogue, the ecumenical movement needs to keep pursuing it with a "more focused" agenda, "touching on issues that pertain to the life of the people," said Aram I.
Organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC), together with a number of Christian world communions, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) and the Roman Catholic Church, the consultation has gathered some 50 church leaders and experts on Christian-Muslim dialogue in Chavannes-de-Bogis, outside Geneva, Switzerland.
The consultation emerged from an ecumenical process launched by the WCC in response to "A Common Word Between Us and You," a letter signed by 138 Muslim scholars and addressed to Christian leaders around the world in October 2007.
More information on the consultation