Joint Communique
issued by the delegations representing
the World Council of Churches and the Muslim Council of Elders
at the meeting held
30 September – 1 October 2016
Geneva, Switzerland

This text is also available in Arabic.

An historic meeting of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Muslim Council of Elders, led by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, His Eminence Prof. Dr Ahmad al-Tayyeb, took place at the WCC headquarters in Geneva and at its ecumenical institute at Château de Bossey, Switzerland, on 30 September and 1 October 2016. The World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation led by Dr Agnes Abuom, Moderator of the Central Committee of the WCC and Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary, warmly welcomed the Grand Imam and the delegation from the Muslim Council of Elders.

There were two sessions of talks on key aspects of interreligious dialogue, combatting religious extremism and peacebuilding. The meeting also featured a public lecture by the Grand Imam on the role of religious leaders in peacemaking. This lecture took place at the Ecumenical Institute, Bossey, as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Institute.

The overriding concern of the meeting was peace, and particularly the role of religions, religious leaders, and faith-based organizations in creating a culture of peace and practices of peacemaking. As children of Abraham, we agree that humanity was created to share the gifts of love and compassion, peace and mercy, and honesty and sincerity.

The rich discussion at the meeting focused particularly on the vital role of religions and religious leaders in peace-building, the interrelation between poverty and religiously caused violence, the importance of religious literacy and interfaith cooperation as a means of combatting extremism by showing signs of hope, and the need to enable young people to be full members both of their societies and their religious communities. The meeting also affirmed the need for members of all religious communities to have equal rights and responsibilities as citizens in their respective countries.

We are committed to work together in the coming year on the following:
•    Rejecting all forms of extremism and discrimination based on religion, race, gender and ethnic origin.
•    Encouraging spiritual leaders to work with appropriate national bodies and authorities to improve the presentation and teaching on religion.
•    Supporting and replicating initiatives such as the “House of the Family” founded by Al Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt.
•    Exploring together ways to affirm the vital contributions women can make, especially to religiously inspired peace-building.
•    Strengthening the engagement of young people in our religious communities.
•    Encouraging the ceasing of the arms race that threatens the security of all peoples, and encouraging instead the use of national resources to combat poverty, ignorance and disease that burden both poor and rich countries.

We call upon all religious leaders to work and strive for justice and peace for one humanity.

At the end of the meeting, both parties agreed to continue and convene a following meeting in March 2017 in Cairo, Egypt.