UCAN REPORT: The main aim of an inter-denominational meeting between Christian leaders in Bangkok is to lay down a joint code of conduct regarding how Christianity can live side by side with other religions, a senior Church official said today.
“To understand ourselves as Christians we should know what and how we should witness to our brothers and sisters of different religions while respecting their beliefs,” said Monsignor Andrew Vissanu Thanya-anan, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue’s Buddhism desk.
Monsignor Thanya-anan was speaking to ucanews.com during the third consultation for a project on Christian Witness in a Multi-Religious World, Recommendations for a Code of Conduct, being held Jan. 25-28.
The meeting brought together 45 prominent religious leaders representing the World Council of Churches, the World Evangelical Alliance and the Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
“In the past, Christians from other denominations rarely had the chance to communicate with each other. Each has their own way of evangelization, and many times some methods angered other religions,” he said.
“Worse still, those unaware of other denominations in Christianity simply associate all Christianity with Catholicism and complain about the Pope. This has from time to time created conflict among Christian denominations,” Monsignor Thanya-anan added.
“In this meeting, we are discussing and creating mutual understanding, so we can adopt methods of evangelization that will not offend those of other beliefs,” he said.
“For example, here in Thailand, Christians should not tell people from other religions that if they don’t believe in ‘our God’ they will go to hell. This is disrespectful of others beliefs — which we should not do. Evangelization should not be by force. It needs to respect others,” said Monsignor Thanya-anan.
The meeting is the third phase of a project that started in Italy in 2006, with the second phase being held in France in 2007. There were four joint meetings in the last two years in Geneva and Rome between the committees of the Catholic Church, the World Council of Churches and the World Evangelical Alliance to prepare the draft of the project’s document.
The outcome of this meeting will be the Bangkok Declaration (code of conduct) that will be officially released worldwide soon.
The meeting aims to make an important contribution to the promotion of mutual respect and understanding among members of different religious or among adherents of different beliefs so that they may live and work together peacefully for the common good.