Participants in a WCC inter-religious dialogue meeting in Nepal.

Participants in a WCC inter-religious dialogue meeting in Nepal.

In South Asia, where conflicts are often fueled by religion, a World Council of Churches (WCC) conference stressed the role of Christians and Hindus as eminent stakeholders in their common search for justice and peace – beyond majority and minority politics.

The conference was held last week in Dhulikhel, Nepal, organized by the WCC in collaboration with the India Peace Centre in Nagpur and the National Council of Churches in Nepal.

The event gathered some 30 participants from Bangladesh, India and Nepal, including religious leaders, religious scholars, youth leaders, theologians, social and environmental activists, social workers and representatives of mission organizations.

The bilateral inter-religious dialogue at the conference invoked varied reflections on issues that are considered both crucial and controversial, including discrimination based on caste and gender, as well as religious conversions in the region.

“The consultation has been a path-breaking initiative as theological dialogues in the past have tended to remain at the level of intellect and concepts only – often cut off from the realities of common people,” said Metropolitan Geevarghese Mor Coorilos of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, from India.

“It has been significant that the conference has focused on diapraxis (collaboration among people of different faiths) on walking the talk of justice and peace,” Coorilos added.

Rev. Dr Peniel Rajkumar, the WCC's programme executive for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation, reflected on the significance of the theme. He said the title of the conference, Marga-Darshan, means “vision for the way” which resonates deeply with the WCC’s call for a “pilgrimage of justice and peace” – recapturing the relevance of the metaphor of the “way” (Marga) for both Christians and Hindus in their quest for justice and peace.

“Based on the idea of Marga-Darshan, the consultation has highlighted Hindu and Christian voices envisioning a world where peace is fostered and justice is furthered,” Rajkumar said.

Metropolitan Coorilos added that in “pilgrimage people embark on common journeys, transcend barriers by eating together, and travel light on foot. Thus pilgrimage provides us the vision of a people’s movement oriented towards social, economic and eco-justice’”.

“The event has helped in discerning ways in which Christians and Hindus can walk together the path of justice and peace through dialogue and diakonia,” said Kasta Dip of the India Peace Centre. He stressed that it is “necessary to resource our search for justice and peace from the rich and deep wells of our various spiritual traditions”. In this regard, the conference has been a timely and important intervention, he said.

WCC programme for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation

WCC Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

WCC member churches in Asia