world council of churches

Issue 31, December 1997

Although this issue of Current Dialogue for various reasons is the only one in 1997, we hope that the content will reflect some of the concerns in interreligious relations and dialogue today. We are grateful for the contributions (articles and reports) we have received from various parts of the world. This issue deals with New Religious Movements as seen from a Russian Orthodox perspective. The author is Archpriest Vladimir Fedorov, the Vice-rector of the Russian Christian Institute of Humanities in St. Petersburg. Member churches throughout the world are, in different ways, faced with the complex and diverging reality of new religious movements, spanning the whole map of religiosity. Some of the necessary requirements for churches are brought to the fore in this article (actually the preface in the Russian translation of a book on New Religious Movements written by Eileen Barker).

Another quite different and increasingly important aspect of interreligious dialogue is interreligious prayer. The Office on Inter-Religious Relations (OIRR) and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue co-organised, 25-29 September 1997, at the Community of Bose, near Magnano, Italy, a theological consultation on interreligious prayer. This consultation followed a worldwide survey on the issue and a gathering in Bangalore in 1996, where the direct experiences of interreligious prayer were explored. The findings of the Bose consultation will most likely be published in another format next year. At this time one of the participants in Bose, Dr. Douglas Pratt from the University of Waikato, Aotearoa-New Zealand, shares his reflections on interreligious prayer.

A Hindu scholar, Prof. Anantanand Rambachan from St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, USA, was the key-note speaker at a Hindu-Christian consultation held in the holy city of Varanasi (Benares) in India, 23-26 October 1997. Those of us who had the privilege of journeying on the river Ganges before sunrise, will always remember these early hours of the morning. The consultation in Varanasi was a collaboration between the National Council of Churches in India and the OIRR. Prof. Rambachan's address raises some poignant, and for some, controversial issues and is reprinted here. The statement from the consultation tells the story about a consultation that took the venue of Varanasi into consideration and which listed issues for future meetings between Hindus and Christians.

This issue contains an update on events in the Christian-Muslim relationship, where the recent developments in dialogue between Muslims and Christians in Lebanon are particularly interesting.

In a year from now, the 8th Assembly of the World Council of Churches will be gathering in Harare, Zimbabwe, 3-14 December 1998. Twelve guests of other faiths will be invited to contribute to the life of the assembly mainly through the format chosen for this assembly, the open space or market placed called in Shona Padare.

Hans Ucko, Editor

Inside this issue . . .

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of Churches. Remarks to: webeditor