The World Council of Churches, which represents more than 560 million Christians, condemned Saturday the New Year’s Day bombing of a Coptic church that killed at least 21 people and wounded 97.
It described the incident as a “vicious attack on innocent worshippers” attending the New Year’s midnight mass at Saints Church in Alexandria, Egypt. WCC general secretary, the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, sent general condolences and prayers on behalf of the ecumenical body to the families of the victims.
WCC calls on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, religious leaders, and governments across the region to safeguard the fundamental religious rights of worshippers of all faiths. more >>
World Council of Churches general secretary, the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on Saturday to discuss church unity and the situation of Christians in the Middle East.
Benedict suggested allowing the Bible to be the centerpiece in theological discussion and reflection as a way to strengthen visible Christian unity, according to Tveit. It was the first time Tveit had a meeting with the pope since he assumed the role of WCC general secretary in January. But it was the second time the ecumenical leader visited the Vatican this year.
“We had a very open and friendly conversation,” said Tveit. “He emphasized in a very kind and also a very strong way the importance of the World Council of Churches’ work and the ministry I am called to do as general secretary.” more >>
After four days of meeting at the Ecumenical Center, Christian and Muslim leaders issued a statement Thursday announcing their intention to form a joint anti-crisis response working group.
The working group will be mobilized “whenever a crisis threatens to arise in which Christians and Muslims find themselves in conflict,” reads the statement that came out of the international consultation on “Transforming Communities: Christian and Muslims Building a Common Future” that was held in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Religion is often invoked in conflict creation, even when other factors, such as unfair resource allocation, oppression, occupation and injustice, are the real roots of conflict,” they say in the statement. “We must find ways to ‘disengage’ religion from such roles and ‘reengage’ it towards conflict resolution and compassionate justice.” more >>
High-level Christian and Muslim leaders meeting in Geneva to build a “common future” together issued a joint statement Wednesday condemning the deadly attack against the Catholic church in downtown Baghdad.
The leaders attending the consultation on “Transforming Communities: Christians and Muslim Building a Common Future” said they “condemn this inhumane act that contradicts all religious teachings, and Middle Eastern culture that enabled people to coexist peacefully for many centuries.”
While the World Council of Churches, which is hosting the consultation, Pope Benedict XVI, and Muslims in Egypt have separately denounced the attack, the joint statement represents the collective voice of all participants at the consultation, including: His Royal Highness, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan; Dr. Muhammad Ahmed Al-Sharif, general secretary of the World Islamic Call Society; the World Council of Churches; and representatives of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant Evangelical and Pentecostal traditions. more >>
Christian and Muslim leaders are gathered in Geneva for a high-level interfaith dialogue on how to build strong and sustainable relationships between the two groups and how the religious communities can use their resources to transform their communities.
The four-day event titled, “Transforming Communities: Christians and Muslims Building a Common Future,” is inspired by the historic 2007 letter by 138 Muslim scholars called, “A Common Word.” Dr. Muhammad Ahmed Al-Sharif, general secretary of the World Islamic Call Society, and His Royal Highness, Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan, the initiator of the letter, are attending the event that is being hosted at the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Center.
“The central theme of our conference affirms that dialogue is important but that we also need to address issues of common concern and act together – putting the common good at the heart of our joint initiative so as to promote ‘dialogue in action,” said the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, in his welcome address on Monday. more >>
The leader of the World Council of Churches is urging Pakistan’s president and prime minister to initiate measures toward the repeal of their controversial blasphemy laws, which critics say are often abused by extremists.
In his letter to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit recalled his organization’s past calls of concern over Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which he said are “fraught with danger that can be abused by extremist groups when dealing with religious minorities.”
“It has been proven in the past that the charges of Blasphemy law appear to be arbitrarily applied and at times founded on malicious accusations against individuals and groups,” Tveit wrote in his letter, dated Friday. more >>