After four days of meeting at the Ecumenical Center, the 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,” read 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,” read the joint statement. “We must find ways to ‘disengage’ religion from such roles and ‘reengage’ it towards conflict resolution and compassionate justice.”
Notably, participants of the consultation were already called upon earlier this week to issue a joint Christian-Muslim statement in response to an attack on a Catholic church in downtown Baghdad. The Christian and Muslim leaders said they “condemn” the “inhumane act” that left 58 people dead after the Our Lady of Najat church was attacked during mass on Sunday. The Islamic State of Iraq, which includes al-Qaida in Iraq, has claimed responsibility for the assault.
Besides calling for the formation of the anti-crisis working group, the joint statement also calls on Christians and Muslims to work together to counter discrimination based on religious identity, affirms the importance of relevant and balanced education about religion of ‘the other’ at all levels and in appropriate formats, and calls on those who fund and manage universities and colleges of religious training to support programs in major religions that encourages positive interreligious relations, among other recommendations.
It also encourages organizers of the consultation – the World Council of Churches, the World Islamic Call Society, the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute and the Consortium of A Common Word – to establish a joint project to promote and share experiences and best practices “of living together constructively in plural societies” and build a “culture of dialogue and inter-religious cooperation,” as well as work together on social and environmental issues.
In total, 64 Christian and Muslim leaders, scholars and activists from around the world gathered in Geneva, Switzerland from Nov. 1 to 4, for the consultation to develop ways of build a common future together that is based on equality, co-citizenship, and mutual respect. The three main areas of focused were: beyond majority and minority, from conflict to compassionate justice, and education for understanding and shared citizenship.
The consultation was unique in that it was jointly prepared and sponsored by Christians and Muslims.