There can be no denying that religious faiths have been sources of division and conflict throughout history. At the same time, respect for common values and similarities in religious experience also have provided the foundations for mutual understanding, respect and collaboration, bringing diverse peoples together in the face of shared social challenges and crises.
Other than in the more militant fundamentalist wings of the world's faiths, the trend toward interfaith and ecumenical openness is growing stronger. The economic, political, social and cultural forces that are shrinking the world into a globalized village are bringing the world's faiths into closer daily interaction and providing them with more urgent challenges.
As Pope John Paul II commented after the September 11th terrorist attacks in the U.S., "If it is imperative for the international community to foster good relations between people belonging to different ethnic and religious traditions, it is all the more urgent for believers themselves to foster relations characterized by openness and trust and leading to common concern for the well-being of the whole human family...[A] vital task before us now is to show how religious belief inspires peace, encourages solidarity, promotes justice and upholds liberty." [From comments on "The Spirituality of Interreligious Dialogue" in Origins, Vol. 31, No. 24, p.404]
Christian ecumenical cooperation is more firmly established historically and reflected in major institutions such as the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches of Christ. But interreligious dialogue at all levels is becoming more common, and interreligious and ecumenical collaboration on matters of social concern are happening at the local level around the world. We offer here resources and links that highlight shared interfaith and ecumenical concerns, social visions and ethical guidance.
- World Council of Churches - http://www.oikoumene.org/
- National Council of Churches of Christ "“ http://www.ncccusa.org/