WCC: 'Honesty' Key to Interfaith Relations

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary-elect of the World Council of Churches at the body's Central Committee Meeting in Sept. 2009. Tveit and his soon-to-be predecessor the Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia spoke recently about the importance of 'honesty' at an interfaith conference hosted by the Muslim World League. (Photo: WCC/Peter Williams)

Representatives from the World Council of Churches (WCC) cited honesty as the key to a "fruitful, mutual understanding," between people of different faiths during a meeting initiated by the Muslim World League, sources reported.

Addressing assembly of Muslim, Jewish and Christian participants, WCC General Secretary Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia stated that honesty means, "both convergences and genuine differences must be recognized and held in a creative tension. Because we are different, we each have something unique to contribute, and every contribution counts. At the same time, dialogue partners seek to discover and appreciate the common values held by all."

Kobia stressed that, "dialogue is not merely a subject for discussion in conferences or councils but a way of living out our faith in relation to one another. In loving and serving the God we know, we find our common calling to affirm human dignity, uphold human rights, preserve the environment and bring warfare to an end."

Also speaking on behalf of the WCC at the meeting was the Rev. Dr. Olav Tveit, the body's incoming general secretary, who said, "We are one humanity, expressed in different civilizations, sharing the same earth."

"It is time for dialogue, honest dialogue, about our attitudes to our neighbor, about our common responsibility toward the earth and toward the coming generations," he exhorted.

Tveit used his home country of Norway as an example of progressive interfaith dialogue, sharing that Norwegian Christians and Muslims have been able to work together on numerous issues, including the rights for Muslims to express their faith and worship, and the need for non-offensive language to be used by both groups in their exercise of freedom of speech.

The general secretary-elect also said that both religious parties have condemned, "any misuse of the teachings of our religions in order to legitimize violence within the family or close relationships."

Elected as the WCC's incoming general secretary in early September, Tveit will be officially sworn in to office on New Year's Day, 2010.

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