Hindu Leader Calls on Pope, WCC to Organize Interfaith Conference

Participants in a WCC youth interfaith forum, Geneva, November 2005. (Photo: WCC)

A prominent Hindu statesman has called on Pope Benedict XVI and the World Council of Churches (WCC) to organize a global interfaith summit.

Speaking in Nevada last week, Universal Society of Hinduism President Rajan Zed said that "serious and honest interfaith dialogue was the need of the hour," according to ANI.

Zed went on to call on Pope Benedict and the WCC leadership, as representatives of some of the largest religious groups in the world, to invite the leaders of the world's major religions for a time of conference.

"Religion is the most powerful, complex and far-reaching force in our society, so we must take it seriously," Zed said, adding that religion "comprises much more than our own particular tradition or experience."

Zed explained that the purpose of the dialogue would be to come up with concrete plans about common religious concerns such as world peace, environmental preservation, and social and economic development.

"In our shared pursuit for the truth, we can learn from one another and thus can arrive nearer to the truth," Zed said. "This dialogue may help us vanquish the stereotypes, prejudices, caricatures, etc., passed on to us from previous generations."

"As dialogue brings us reciprocal enrichment, we shall be spiritually richer than before the contact," he added.

Zed's remarks come following Benedict's visit to Cyprus where the pontiff highlighted the importance of ecumenical dialogue.

Furthermore, interfaith dialogue is a pillar of the WCC's current work, and an activity the organization has engaged in for nearly 50 years.

"At the dawn of the 21st century, religion plays a central role in public life, and has become a significant identity marker," a statement from the WCC reads.

"In our increasingly pluralistic societies, more inter-religious dialogue and cooperation are needed if conflict fueled by religion is to be constructively addressed."

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