Board of World Religious Leaders Speak Out on Pope Speech

Elijah’s Board of World Religious Leaders releases an official response today to the divisive speech that set off three weeks of poor publicity for the new Papacy.
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Oct. 5, 2006 - PRLog -- The board, which is part of the global Elijah Interfaith Institute and boasts more than forty pre-eminent leaders from the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim faiths from fifteen countries, hopes to calm the feud in the run up to the Pope’s upcoming visit to Turkey and set a framework for constructive dialogue between all faiths. The significant points in its response to the Pope speech are (actual text on next page):

There is a need for all religious leaders to re-examine polemical works (such as the mediaeval text in question), which are inherently exclusive and unfavourable to ‘the other,’ and say whether the claims in them should be upheld, rejected or reframed in the light of the prevailing need for dignity and respect in inter-group relations

All religious leaders and adherents today have the responsibility to reframe their communications in accordance with core values and contemporary global realities

The controversy is an aberration in the culture of strong communications between the faiths. Sound bites are taken out of context and take on a life of their own, and all religious leaders and scholars need to be more mindful of the change in the media and communications environment

Engaging in polemics is the way in which religious communities have avoided the kind of self-criticism and rationality that the Pope highlighted as necessary for fruitful inter-faith dialogue. Religious communities need to engage one another in ways that are more appropriate for religious communities. Careful and full listening and mutually respectful dialogue are the only way of moving forward and the only remedy to violent reactions

The statement represents part of the ‘Response’ initiative, in which Elijah’s Board of World Religious Leaders along with scholars of the Elijah Interfaith Academy, respond to crises and contemporary issues about the role and relevance of faith in society. In an earlier statement, responding to the controversy surrounding the ‘Da Vinci Code’ film and the Muslim cartoon dispute, the board said ‘a critical investigation of religion and its institutions has to be undertaken with the same care and concern for accuracy and respect that is applied to the critical discussion of any other institution or domain of knowledge.’  (425 words)

Interviews are available with many of the world religious leaders. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Simon Cohen

+44 (0)845 054 0064

+44 (0)774 574 0013

Notes to editors:

The Elijah Interfaith Institute’s range of contacts and networks include a board of world religious leaders, an extensive network of engaged scholars, academic partnership with leading universities, and membership in UNESCO educational and administrative networks. The Board of World Religious Leaders facilitates and advances the work of the Interfaith Academy. Consisting of pre-eminent religious leaders, the Board determines the Academy's multi-annual program of research and collaboration, nominates scholars to the Academy, receives and disseminates its proceedings and endorses its work. Further information on

Signatories of the above statement are currently:
Sayyed Jawad Al-Khoei, Al Khoei Foundation, London
Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah, President, Islamic Society of North America, USA
Dr. Wahiduddin Khan, Founder of the Islamic Center, India
Dr. Yahya M. Basha, USA
Dr Adamou Ndam Njoya, Former President of the African Muslim Congress, Cameroon*
Ven. Blanche Zenkei Hartman, San Francisco Zen Center, USA
Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo, University of San Diego, USA
Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, Russian Orthodox Bishop of Vienna, Austria
The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop, Episcopal Church, USA
Bishop Lennart Koskinen, Church of Sweden
Metropolitan Nikitas Lulias, Orthodox Church, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia
Archbishop Boutrous Mouallem, Catholic Bishop Emeritus, Haifa and Galilee, Israel
Patriarch Mesrob II, Armenian Patriarchate, Istanbul
Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, Haifa, Israel
Chief Rabbi Menachem HaCohen, Chief Rabbi of Romania
Rabbi Richard Marker, International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC)
Rabbi Michael Melchior, Chief Rabbi Emeritus Norway, MK, Israel
Rabbi Mordechai Peron, Chief Rabbi Emeritus of Zurich
Rabbi David Rosen, Chief Rabbi Emeritus Ireland, President, International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC)
Guruji Sri Rishi Prabhakarji, Sidha Samadhi Yoga, India
Sugunendra Theertha Swamiji, Maadhwa Sangha, India

Full text of the statement available from

Source:global tolerance
Email:Contact Author
Phone:0845 054 0064
Zip:EC1Y 8JJ
Tags:Pope, Pope Speech, Religion
Industry:Religion, News

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