The dialogues date back to 1995, when the relationship between WCC and the Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue began. In 2020, both institutions celebrated their 25th anniversary of the partnership.
WCC acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca said: “The affirmation of human rights for all and the respect for human dignity and our common cooperation for implementing these divine values, remain a pivotal reason of our dialogue and encounter. The tragic events of popular unrest in Iran that erupted in September after the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, saddened us deeply.”
Sauca added: “We are looking forward to hearing more from you on these during these coming days of our encounter and are committed to searching for ways of addressing together such challenges of violence and of finding, as people of faith, paths towards social cohesion, respect for human rights, and human dignity for all.”
Sauca also said that he hoped the two organizations would find ways to include the next generations in their work together. “May we not just talk about institutions but about dynamic ideas and our living, breathing faith that will serve a broken humanity and a suffering earth,” he said.
H. E. Mohammad Mahdi Imanipour, president of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization, and chairman of the Policy-making Council of Interreligious Dialogue, reflected that interreligious and intercultural dialogues are the most important fields of dialogue.
“In today’s world, interreligious and intercultural dialogues are essential from several aspects,” he said. “Due to certain changes and developments in today’s world, human perception and understanding as well as their worldview have undergone a lot of changes and development.”
Dialogue and interaction among religious leaders are inevitable and necessary for achieving convergence at a greater level, Imanipour added. “Coexistence among different religious traditions requires interaction and cooperation among all traditions,” he said. “On the other hand, creating enlightenment in public opinion about the existing religious and ideological misunderstandings is the other issue that throws light on the necessity and inevitability of interreligious dialogues.”
Imanipour also addressed the history of how the issue of interreligious dialogue came to be an important agenda of Islamic Iran with regard to international relations.
“This trend resulted in the emergence of constructive opinions and views among Iranian religious scholars and thinkers in the field of interreligious dialogues and paved the path for a great transformation in this field,” he said. “Right from the beginning of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, religious dialogues and discussions—at all levels—have been given a lot of importance.”
The dialogues between Islam and Christianity can be considered some of the most effective interreligious dialogues with practical outcomes, Imanipour further noted. “I conclude by praying for the success of this round of dialogues and its positive impact on all the people of the world, and I thank the honorable authorities of the World Council of Churches for hosting and holding this important meeting.”
Highlights of the dialogue have been published in a communiqué that acknowledges the context of a divided and troubled world.
“Several themes were discussed including the focus on the emerging concerns we share about the disaffection of many youth from their religious traditions, faith in a multireligious and secular world, and religious approaches to environmental issues,” reads the communique. “The participants planned that the two delegations will set up a small working group focused on research, and also produce an annual joint publication.”
The next meeting will take place in 2024 in Tehran, Iran.
Read here the communique of the meeting