Vienna Inter-religious center officials visit World Council of Churches

(Image: KAICIID)

Officials from a Vienna-based international inter-religious center have met their counterparts at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches for discussions at a time of heightened global inter-religious tension.

The secretary general and officials from the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Inter-religious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) visited the WCC offices in Geneva, Switzerland.

They met with the general secretary of the WCC, Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, who hosted a lunch, the church grouping said in a statement.

Faisal Bin Muammar, secretary general of KAICIID and Ambassador Alvaro Albacete, his special advisor, were present, accompanied by Pierre Sigg and Iris Jumbe.

Muammar said he wanted to work with the WCC on inter-religious dialogue initiatives.

"We don't need dialogue among the elite in conference rooms only. We need to move towards implementation.

"I can share my own experience where we have been able to spread the culture of dialogue involving players on the ground, working with mosques, with families and the media," Muammar said.

"Through my work I have seen and felt how the vast majority of human beings everywhere are against all the crimes perpetrated in the name of religion.

"Therefore I am a strong believer in dialogue and in building bridges," he noted.

KAICIID says it works to enable, empower and encourage dialogue among followers of different religions and cultures around the world.

Located in Vienna, the center is an independent, autonomous, international organization, free of political or economic influence, established in November 2012.

The founding States of the center are Saudi Arabia, Austria and Spain which constitute the "Council of Parties" responsible for overseeing its work while the Holy See is a founding observer.


Clare Amos, the WCC's program executive for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation, said, "It has been very good to be able to welcome the secretary general of KAICIID and his staff here at the Ecumenical Centre."

She said it had enabled him to see the considerable resources, interest and commitment the WCC has among its "sister organizations."

"This commitment enables us to work on a wide variety of concerns, from a Christian perspective, but also taking into account the multi-religious nature of our world."

Amos went on to say that the WCC staff has already begun to work with KAICIID in a number of areas of concern, particularly linked to the Middle East.

"I am hoping that this visit by Dr. Muaammar and his colleagues will stimulate us to find further fruitful avenues of collaboration and partnership between ecumenical organizations and KAICIID to the benefit of our respective constituencies," noted Amos.

The KAICIID board of directors consists of representatives of major religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism).

Last week it unanimously condemned the violence committed in Paris and extend their deepest condolences and sympathy to the victims' families and communities.

Speaking on behalf of the board, the Metropolitan of France and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, Metropolitan Emmanuel, stated that "we...utterly denounce the brutal attack on the French newspaper 'Charlie Hebdo' that killed and injured innocent people.

"In the wake of this tragedy, some are examining past immigration policies, assimilation challenges, or the radicalization of the nation's youth.

"These are important questions to ask, however a more pressing reality is that violence is too prevalent. We must sound the alarm for peace before civilization deteriorates to further anarchy.

"There are so many major attacks in diverse places with such frequency that we are growing weary of hearing about more bloodshed. It is time to get serious about living in peace with those who differ from us. The world cannot sustain the path of destruction we are racing down with ever-increasing speed."

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