Issue 40, December 2002

Dear friends,

Current Dialogue no. 40 presents as its pièce de résistance a new document of the Office on Interreligious Relations and Dialogue: “Guidelines for Dialogue and Relations with People of Other Religions.” (The document will also be available as a separate booklet). This document takes stock of thirty years of interreligious dialogue; it focuses on our learnings and records some of the difficulties and problems that we come across in dialogue. The document, which has been prepared the last years by various groups of our constituency, tries to be realistic in suggesting that which is important in interreligious relations. It addresses the role of religion in situations of conflict and underlines the ambiguity of religion.

Inside this issue of Current Dialogue ...

Religious Pluralism in Europe: Challenge for Church and Theology - An Ecumenical Perspective from Asia Martin Repp   

The Transfiguration: Symbol of Christian-Jewish solidarityDouglas Pratt

Guidelines for Dialogue and Relations with People of Other Religions
- Taking stock of 30 years of dialogue and revisiting the 1979 Guidelines

"Christians and Muslims in Dialogue and Beyond"
- Report on an international consultation
- Challenges Facing Christian-Muslim Dialogue – Aram I Catholicos of Cilicia
- Reflections on the State of Muslim-Christian Relations - Perspectives from the WCC – Konrad Raiser
- Reports of the three working groups

Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) European Meeting - Lisbon, August 2002

Conference Statement, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Brookline, Mass. The Orthodox Churches in a Pluralistic World: An Ecumenical Conversation, October 2002

Re-reading John 14:6 in the Context of Two Recent Events in the UK Israel Selvanayagam

The document communicates the experience of many involved in interreligious dialogue: we cannot exhaust God using our theological affirmations. God is always more and the religious manifold makes some of us even more convinced of the old spiritual: “He’s got the whole world in his hand,” people of other faiths included.

This issue contains also a report from a Christian-Muslim dialogue, held under the auspices of the WCC in October in Geneva. The introductions by the Moderator of the WCC, His Holiness Aram I points to a vital dimension in Christian-Muslim relations: (In) “order to pave the future course of Christian-Muslim dialogue, we must analyse the concepts of Dhimma, co-citizenship, human rights and majority-minority relations. These are not simply academic issues; they are existential problems that deeply affect the co-existence of our communities. Hence, where Christians are a minority, there is a need to move beyond a Dhimmi mentality and to develop a system based on equal rights and full participation. Where Muslims are in a minority situation, broader spaces of creative interaction and wider possibilities of active participation in public life must be provided. Unless these issues are addressed seriously, Muslim-Christian community relations will continue to be characterized by feelings of inferiority, submission and intolerance. The fundamental question is: what does it mean to be co-citizens in a society in which Christians and Muslims live together?” Also, the General Secretary of the WCC, Dr. Konrad Raiser points to some of the real and thorny issues in Christian-Muslim dialogue, and notes that these often are the result of minority-majority situations.

If you read Current Dialogue on our website, you will have seen the material about the Christian-Muslim consultation posted already shortly after the consultation took place. Whenever the occasion arises, we will try to post new things, including the web-edition of Current Dialogue, on the site. If you would like us to alert you when there is something new posted on the site and when there is a new issue of Current Dialogue, please send us at your earliest convenience your e-mail address to WCC Contact and indicate in the subject-line “Current Dialogue on the net” so that we can create an internet group of Current Dialogue-subscribers.

The year 2002 draws to its end. It has for the WCC been quite a difficult year. The severe financial problems faced by the WCC have necessitated significant changes, reduction in staff and reorganisation of the work of the WCC. For the Office on Interreligious Relations and Dialogue, the immediate change has been that we have been moved into the General Secretariat as one of three overarching priorities of the WCC: interreligious relations, the Decade to Overcome Violence and the Focus on Africa. This move gives first added visibility to interreligious dialogue in the WCC as a major concern of the council. The necessary changes have secondly prompted a commitment and direction, which is promising: the need for intentional and concrete cooperation with program teams of the WCC on mission and interreligious dialogue, on education and interreligious dialogue, on international relations and interreligious dialogue, on Faith & Order and interreligious dialogue. Thirdly, our proximity to the Decade to Overcome Violence and the Focus on Africa should in 2003 also give added possibilities for our office to work on issues of interreligious dialogue in Africa under the heading of overcoming violence. The Focus on Africa has already this year been addressed from an interreligious perspective. In cooperation with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID), a multifaith consultation on the theme “The African Person” was held in Dakar, Senegal, the first week of December. It brought together people from French-speaking Africa and from the African Diaspora: Christians from mainline churches as well as from African Independent Churches, followers of African traditional religion as well as of African Muslims. The next issue of Current Dialogue will bring you a full report.

Hoping that you find pleasure in reading this issue of Current Dialogue, I send you Season’s greetings.

Hans Ucko

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Just published!

Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement
second edition

edited by Nicholas Lossky, José Miguez Bonino, John Pobee, Tom F. Stransky, Geoffrey Wainwright and Pauline Webb

With almost 700 entries, 50 of them new and the others revised and updated, and 370 authors representing most Christian confessions and all world regions, this second edition takes account of the major changes that have taken place in the world, and the life of the churches, during the decade since it first appeared.

An essential tool for study and research on the movement, the dictionary includes entries covering:
- principal developments in the history of the ecumenical movement at world, regional and national levels;
- the life and work of the WCC and other ecumenical bodies and organizations;
- ecumenical concerns of the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian families;
- discussions and agreements on doctrinal matters;
- Christian insights into social, political, legal, cultural and ethical issues;
- evangelism and mission, worship and prayer, education and the renewal of the church;
- Christian responsibility towards the poor and their place in church and society;
- communicating the ecumenical vision and dialogue with other faiths;
- biographies of some of the outstanding personalities in the ecumenical movement.

Throughout its 1300 pages, multiple cross-references provide links between the articles, thus enabling wider exploration of the various themes. Bibliographies were drawn up with the average reader in mind.

ISBN 2-8254-1354-2, hardback, 1322pp., Sfr.125.00, US$77.50, £58.00, €79.00

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