Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation

WCC attempts to strengthen interreligious trust and respect through bilateral and multilateral dialogues, and through regional and cross-cultural encounters on topics like religion and violence, perceptions of "the other," and the search for identity in pluralistic societies.

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Embracing dialogue as a concrete way of living out the gospel’s call to love God and our neighbours, the office of Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation strives to nurture interreligious encounter and engagement among member churches, as a means of furthering the fullness and flourishing of all life.

Since its establishment in 1971, the office promotes dialogue as “the common adventure of the churches” to be undertaken in a spirit of honesty, hospitality and hope as we pursue “what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom. 14:19) in a multi-religious world.

Meaningful dialogue involves the translation of committed and creative theological reflection into courageous and compassionate action. Therefore, the WCC interreligious desk seeks to build bridges of trust and respect with neighbours of other faiths and to develop interreligious solidarities that can promote justice, peace, and the wellbeing of the entire creation.

Strengthening relationships: Through our bilateral and multilateral dialogues, we seek to strengthen relationships with neighbours of other faiths, recognizing that we are “no longer strangers… but members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19-22) in our multi-religious world. We have ongoing dialogues with Buddhists, Confucians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and Sikhs.

Deepening reflection: We seek to stimulate reflection on the many questions about the theology and practice of interreligious dialogue through our interreligious conferences. We strive to resource and accompany member churches through capacity-building seminars and the production of cutting-edge theological material, including our journal Current Dialogue. In recent years our conferences and publications have focused on such themes as Christian witness in a multi-religious world; Christian self-understanding; education for peace; religion and violence; multiple religious belonging; and interreligious theology of liberation. 

Widening engagement: Seeking to “walk the talk” of justice and peace, we constantly strive to widen the scope of our engagement in areas of advocacy and peace-building. Recent engagement has encompassed the areas of statelessness, migration, climate change, and just transitions in partnership with key international and interfaith partners.

You can get involved with WCC’s work on interreligious dialogue and cooperation by:

  • Participating in one of our capacity-building seminars or interreligious conferences for youth on behalf of your church or ecumenical organization or theological institution
  • Organizing a reception and reflection process in your own context on one of our study documents
  • Initiating an interreligious initiative relevant to your own context.

The following resources have been produced by the WCC to guide reflection and action in key areas of interfaith engagement:

Study documents

Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World

A landmark document addressing the conduct of Christian witness around the world was released 28 June 2011 by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) of the Roman Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) after five years of work. With an expressed awareness of inter-religious tensions and the difference in religious convictions, the document, "Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World: Recommendations for Conduct" is meant as a tool for churches, ecumenical organizations and mission agencies rather than a policy or theological statement.

Ecumenical movement

Education for Peace in a Multi-Religious World

A Christian Perspective

Encouraging churches and Christian organizations to reflect on the structural roots of what has led to the disruption of peace in the world, and on their own current practices and priorities in relation to education and peacemaking.

Key interfaith statements

"Faith communities demand climate justice" - Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change for COP25 Madrid 2019

This is the declaration of the Interfaith Liaison Committee to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to the United Nations climate change summit COP25 (Madrid, Spain, 2-13 December 2019). Working together at COP25, the group has been seeking “to offer a positive and empowering voice of hope over fear, of compassion over indifference, and urgent and fair action as a moral obligation.”

Ecumenical movement
Messages to Interfaith partners

World Council of Churches General Secretary Greeting to Muslims at Eid al-Fitr, 2019

I am glad to have this opportunity to greet the many Muslim friends and colleagues of the World Council of Churches, and indeed all Muslims, as you celebrate the festival of Eid al-Fitr.
And as we greet you warmly at this festive time and give thanks for all the good things that God gives us in our relationships with you, we are also aware of the many difficult challenges in the world that we are surely called to face together on the basis of our shared commitment to justice and peace for all people.

General Secretary

Ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, 27 January

‘We call upon all the churches we represent to denounce antisemitism, no matter what its origin, as absolutely irreconcilable with the profession and practice of the Christian faith. Antisemitism is sin against God and man.’ This unambiguous WCC declaration in 1948 has been regularly re-stated over the last 70 years. In the same spirit, the annual commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day is an opportunity to be welcomed. It focuses a widespread commitment not to forget the Holocaust of the Jewish people (while not excluding remembrance of other genocides) and to help prevent such atrocities in the future.

Sowing Peace

I recently attended the conference on ‘Interreligious dialogue for peace: Promoting Peaceful coexistence and common citizenship’ organized by KAICIID in Vienna on the 26 and 27 of February. The conference brought together some high profile religious leaders (predominantly but not exclusively from the Christian and Muslim faiths) who spoke with a united voice for social cohesion, peaceful coexistence and respect for religious diversity.

Deepavali lights celebrate the victory of justice

The festival of lights called Deepavali (or Diwali) in India is deeply connected with the idea of hope, aspiration and abundance. Deepavali is the celebration of victory that is promised to a person who leads a morally responsible life. It is a victory of justice, represented by the oil lamps that cast away the darkness of oppression.

Current Dialogue

WCC's journal on interreligious dialogue, offering a platform for debate to those who want to build bridges across religious divides and to their partners of different faiths.

YATRA

Youth in Asia Training for Religious Amity (YATRA), an interreligious training programme by the World Council of Churches.

Inter-religious Summer School

Engaging for Just and Participatory Societies – Belongingness in Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Rev. Dr Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar
WCC programme executive for Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation, Church of South India
email: Peniel.Rajkumar@wcc-coe.org  
phone: +41 22 791-6546

 

Reference Group

The Reference Group on Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation is an advisory group to the WCC general secretary. Its mandate is to:

  • offer advice on the development and content of WCC work related to interreligious dialogue and cooperation
  • raise and discuss relevant topical issues that may need to be taken into account in the future agenda of the WCC
  • offer support and advice to staff of the interreligious dialogue programme
  • extend and publicize the work of the WCC in this area through the wider networks with which the members of the reference group are involved
  • help churches (in their respective regions) develop their interreligious capacities by facilitating processes of reception of and reflection on key WCC documents.