The World Council of Churches (WCC) and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC ) have met formally on 25-27 June in Paris.
This meeting, under the theme “The normalization of hatred: challenges for Jews and Christians today,” took place at a time of challenges both to religious life in general and to each of our communities in their various contexts,” reads a communique released by the two groups.
“Among the issues that informed this gathering were: the rise of xenophobic nationalist movements in much of the world; suspicion of the agendas of religious communities and institutions, especially in Europe; the resurgence of overt antisemitism; the prevalence of Islamophobia; newly emerging anti-Christian attitudes; the continuing non-resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; worldwide hostility to vulnerable minorities; and the shocking erosion of civil society in many places and ways.” reads the communique. “We are particularly horrified by the recent increase in murderous attacks on places of worship in different parts of the world.”
In discussions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it was recognized that there have sometimes been very real tensions between the positions of the WCC and IJCIC. “This meeting took place with acknowledgment of the development in both more constructive communications and the way that differences are conveyed publicly,” the communique reads.
“These discussions in Paris were characterized by openness, honesty, and an attempt to fully empathize with how profoundly important these issues are to Jews and Christians alike.”
The groups also focused on their shared challenge to address injustice in the world. “Our religious traditions mandate that we honour the integrity and humanity of all, welcome and care for the stranger, and resist evil. We are living at a time when this demands our courageous attention,” reads the text.
The two groups also explored ways in which, working together, “our advocacy and interventions may be forces for good in the world. We are committed to addressing and opposing all forms of normalization of hatred, including antisemitism and attacks on religious communities. Areas of possible collaboration included: mutual education; environmental concerns; and gender justice.”
This historic meeting concluded with a shared commitment to continue to communicate openly and regularly, to facilitate the joint efforts to affect change identified by the meeting, “and to reconvene at regular intervals so that we can advance our respective and mutual responsibilities to our own communities and the world at large.” concludes the text.