World Council of Churches (WCC) acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca reflected on the relevance of the document and the state of ecumenical engagement in interreligious dialogue.
Sauca expressed his gratitude to the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue for editing the new volume and orchestrating a special release celebration.
“This new volume is both timely and pertinent,” said Sauca. “After a full decade and in our rapidly evolving context, we can see more clearly the quiet revolution initiated by ‘Christian Witness in an Inter-Religious World’ and the several achievements of that brief 2011 document.”
Sauca also expressed his appreciation for the engagement of the World Evangelical Alliance in the reflections leading to the new volume, which ensured the WCC and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue the broadest possible ecumenical approach to an historically contentious and competitive sphere.
“Second, though it disavows a theology as such, 'Christian Witness’ effectively drew not on juridical considerations but on the indisputable theological core of Christian commitment, that is, proclamation of the Gospel with integrity, ensuring widespread acceptance,” said Sauca. “Third, the document effectively set limits on missional and interreligious activity without setting out a list of dos and don’ts.”
The document calls for genuine respect for people, their religious lives, and cultures while renouncing deception and coercion, whether in proclamation, ministries of healing, or acts of service. “Fourth, the clarion call for freedom of religion in the document guards not only against abuse against religious communities but also abuse by them,” said Sauca. “Finally, ‘Christian Witness’ created a fertile confluence of mission with interreligious dialogue and cooperation when these two fields had sometimes been at odds with each other.”
The new volume has illumined our calling, concluded Sauca. “God’s mission is to all humanity in all aspects of life, and I am sure that your reflections on ‘Christian Witness’ and this new volume will strengthen God’s call to us as the Risen Christ’s agents of reconciliation and unity,” he said.