Some 180 theologians from all parts of the world gathered in Porto Alegre, Brazil in January 21, for a four-day conference on interfaith dialogue in a context that is marked by violent conflict between regions.
The conference, which ended on January 21-25, was held just prior to the World Social Forum (WSF) a gathering of hundreds of Christian leaders of various denominations and backgrounds. The WSF, which opens on January 26, is supported by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and various ecumenical organizations in Latin America, as a precursor to the upcoming 2006 WCC assembly in Porto Alegre.
According to Luis Carlos Susin, the coordinator for the theological forum, the theologians were able to share mutual dialogue on topics related to both the WSF slogan, Another World is Possible, and the WCC Assembly theme, God, in your grace, transform the world.
"The road is made as you walk it," said Susin. "From our religious experience, we can [ ] dedicate ourselves to justice and compassion, or to intolerance and fundamentalism. We have chosen the first option. In this forum, we will share our vision that another world is possible."
Rev. Dr Ofelia Ortega, said the president of the Presbyterian Reformed Church in Cuba, meanwhile asked questions regarding the issue of maintaining faith in the context of globalization.
"Our task is the fulfilment of the Agape of God which is based on grace and transforming justice," said Ortega. Turning the WCC assembly theme around, Ortega stressed human responsibility for the act of transformation: "God, in your grace, help us to obey your call to be agents for transforming your world."