World Council of Churches and Vatican to agree code on religious conversion

World Council of Churches and Vatican to agree code on religious conversion -10/05/06

The Vatican and the World Council of Churches (WCC) have announced that they are conducting a three-year joint study project aimed at developing a shared code of conduct on the controversial issue of religious conversion.

The study project, named "Interreligious reflection on conversion: from controversy to a shared code of conduct", is being launched with a meeting in Velletri, Rome, from 12-16 May 2006.

Gathering some 30 participants representing different religious traditions and regions, the meeting will focus on assessing the current reality of religious conversion from an interreligious point of view.

The next stages of the project will be, first, a discussion of religious conversion from a Christian perspective and, second, the establishment of a shared code of conduct. This is expected to distinguish between witness and proselytism, making respect for freedom of thought, conscience and the religion of others a primary concern in any encounter between people of different faiths.

The study project is being jointly undertaken by the Roman Catholic Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the WCC's Office on Interreligious Relations and Dialogue.

In addition to Christians, dialogue partners from Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Indigenous religious traditions are also expected to participate.

"The issue of religious conversion remains a controversial dimension in many interconfessional and interreligious relations", says Rev Dr Hans Ucko, head of the WCC's interreligious relations office.

"We hope that at the end of this study project, we will be able to propose a code of conduct that will affirm that commitment to our faith never translates into denigration of the other", he explains.