Delegations of Anglican / Episcopal and the Roman Catholic Church, Shia and Sunni Islam, gathered in Tehran from November 6th to November 9th for the fourth Christian-Muslim Summit of Religious Leaders to reflect and share ideas around the theme of “Respect for human dignity: the foundation for peace and security”.
The summits began in 2007 when former Iranian President Muhammad Khatami spoke at Washington National Cathedral in the US. He called for a gathering of religious and cultural leaders from eastern and western perspectives. The first summit took place at Washington National Cathedral in 2010 and subsequent summits were held in Beirut in 2012 and in Rome in 2014.
At the closing ceremony, the participants issued a ‘Call of Action’ (full text here), in which they underlined the importance that Sacred Texts attach to love, kindness and compassion for fellow human beings, warning against misinterpreting these texts to wrongly justify violence, persecution, intimidation and hate. They called for a “re-reading, renewed comprehension and accurate teaching of our religious beliefs, values and principles, respectful of every human person, of human dignity, and of human rights and responsibilities”, adding that “the willingness to be self-critical can constitute a significant way to counteract fanaticism.”
The statement also condemned desecration of religious sanctities and committed themselves to “promote a culture of non-violence” and to “protect freedom of human thought, belief, and religious practice, by respecting human dignity of all persons.” It also included protection of religious minorities, stating that “the concepts of believer/non-believer, should not affect citizens’ rights and social relationships” and underlined the need for inclusion of women in inter-religious dialogue, promoting the culture of peace, and defending freedom of thought and religion.
The Call to Action was signed on behalf of the four delegations by Ayatollah Professor Sayyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad, director of Islamic studies at the Iran Academy of Sciences (Head of Shia delegation); Shaikh Dr Mahdi al-Sumaidaei, the Grand Mufti of Sunni Muslims in Iraq (Head of Sunni delegation); Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja in Nigeria (Head of Catholic Delegation); and Bishop John Chane, senior advisor on inter-religious dialogue to Washington National Cathedral in the US (Head of Anglican/Episcopal Delegation).