For immediate release – 26/03/2008 10:24:40 AM
CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS MUST ENHANCE COMMON GROUND AND ACKNOWLEDGE DIFFERENCES, SAYS WCC
Love for one’s neighbour is “an essential and integral part of faith in God and love of God” for both Islam and Christianity. How Christians and Muslims can engage in reflections of this love together is the central theme of a commentary issued by the World Council of Churches (WCC) on Thursday, 20 March. Compiled by Christian experts in Christian-Muslim relations, it addresses the churches and offers suggestions on responding to the widely noticed letter “A Common Word” by 138 Muslim leaders in October 2007.
The commentary entitled “Learning to explore love together” is part of on-going consultations in which the WCC has engaged its member churches and ecumenical partners since November 2007. It invites them “to explore together with Muslim fellows the love of God and the love of neighbour in their respective contexts”.
“We are encouraging our churches to consider this invitation offered by the Muslim leaders as a new opportunity for interreligious dialogue” said WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia. “It is our hope that this commentary will be a helpful tool as churches reflect on ‘A Common Word,’ and begin to engage in dialogue with the Muslim community,” he said.
The document invites the churches to reflect on the two major theological themes of “A Common Word,” love of God and love of neighbour. It points to the historical challenges and new promises of such dialogues and outlines a process for continuing dialogue among Muslim and Christian leaders. It is “a pressing necessity that while Christians and Muslims must find ways of enhancing what they hold in common, they must also find ways of acknowledging and respecting the differences between them,” the document states.
“This document signals the initiating of a process,” said Rima Barsoum, WCC program executive for Christian-Muslim Dialogue, “it calls for a joint planning group that will carefully prepare and jointly invite Muslim and Christian leaders and scholars for continuing dialogue events that will encourage interreligious cooperation at the global and local levels.
This process of response was affirmed by the Central Committee of the WCC at its meeting in February 2008, in Geneva.
Download the document “Learning to explore love together” (pdf, 46 KB): http://www.oikoumene.org//fileadmin/files/wcc-main/documents/p6/Learning_to_Explore_Love_Together.pdf
“A Common Word”, a Muslim letter to Christian leaders: http://www.acommonword.com/