WCC NEWS: Religious leaders reflect on Christian presence in the Arab world

From WCC media <noreply@wcc-coe.org>
Date Fri, 27 Jan 2012 18:10:20 +0100

World Council of Churches - News


For immediate release: 27 January 2012

The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse
Tveit reaffirmed churches’ commitment to justice and peace in the Middle
East, while stressing the importance of a common vision for living
together by Christians and Muslims in the Arab world.

Tveit was speaking at the Christian-Muslim consultation on “Christian
Presence and Witness in the Arab World” organized by the WCC programmes
for Churches in the Middle East (Link:
http://www.oikoumene.org/index.php?RDCT=2921f29197f74bfa2dc8 ) and 
Inter-religious Dialogue and
Cooperation (Link: http://www.oikoumene.org/index.php?RDCT=80c6f75faf79616dee90 
) in
collaboration with the Middle East Council of Churches (Link:
http://www.oikoumene.org/index.php?RDCT=168c332798e0fea9e0d2 ).

The consultation is currently taking place from 24-28 January at the
Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia in Antelias, Lebanon, bringing together
youth, scholars and Christian and Muslim leaders for a frank and dynamic

Tveit said the Middle East is of special interest for the WCC, and
articulated the historic significance of Christian presence in the Arab
world, where he believes faith plays a major role, reflecting on the
decleration of the WCC’s Central Committee (Link:
http://www.oikoumene.org/index.php?RDCT=11e76e28ae95547d23b3 ) meeting of 
February 2011:

“Our living faith has its roots in this region and is nourished and
nurtured by the unbroken witness of the local churches, who have their own
roots from the apostolic times.”

“Without this Christian presence, the conviviality among peoples from
different faiths, cultures, and civilisations, which is a sign of God’s
love for all humanity, will be endangered,” said Tveit.

He appreciated the participation of a range of Muslims in the consultation,
who he says, have emphasized their commitment to strengthen the Christian
presence in the Middle East. He said that it is through their action for
the common good that people in the Arab world can accomplish peace,
justice, freedom and harmony.

“We will certainly want to make clear to our wider constituency, the
WCC’s extensive experience over many years of how Christians and Muslims
continue to work together constructively for the common good,” he said.

Tveit also pointed out the challenges faced by the Christians in the Arab
world, and the sense of insecurity they feel, due to political divides and
persistent conflicts.

The WCC has addressed over a number of years the issue of emigration of
Christians from the region resulting from the occupation and war in Iraq
and the occupation of the Palestinian territories.

He said, “We know that the changes in the Arab world over the last year
– and changes still to come – have also left many Christians, along
with many Muslims, feeling uncertain and even afraid for their future."

Highlighting the efforts of churches struggling for justice and peace in
Israel and Palestine, Tveit said that the situation is of great concern
for Christians in Jerusalem, as well as people of other faiths.

Read also:

Full text of the WCC general secretary's speech (Link:
http://www.oikoumene.org/index.php?RDCT=99fb60e7db17740cd1ca )

Churches in the Middle East re-affirm their commitment to peace
)(WCC press release of 14 December 2011)

WCC programme for special focus on the Middle East (Link:
http://www.oikoumene.org/index.php?RDCT=8f2a8c0b10e115938207 )

WCC programme for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation
http://www.oikoumene.org/index.php?RDCT=152262585d5e12f68f91 )

The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness 
and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of 
churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, 
Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million 
Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman 
Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, 
from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.

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