WCC trains students for interreligious dialogue

Interreligious Studies at Bossey Institute

Young students from all over the world were welcomed to the World Council of Churches (WCC)  Ecumenical Institute in Bossey, Switzerland on Tuesday for the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Interreligious Studies.

The theme of the 2018/2019 academic year is “Engaging for just and participatory societies – belongingness in Judaism, Christianity and Islam”. The distance learning component of the course started three weeks ago. It brings together students from the three Abrahamic religions to learn more about each other’s religions and enhance their understanding of today’s multicultural society.

The students were welcomed by the dean, Fr Prof Lawrence Iwuamadi and Fr Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca, director of the WCC Ecumenical Institute and deputy general secretary of the WCC. Sauca encouraged participants to engage in “a dialogue of identities” and to reflect on “what we can do together as people of different faiths to create a society where we live peacefully side by side”.  He also proudly mentioned the fact that it has been 12 years since interreligious studies started at the Ecumenical Institute. The course has been developed in close cooperation with the Autonomous Faculty of Protestant Theology of the University of Geneva.

Prof. Ghislain Waterlot, dean at the faculty, praised a long and productive relationship with the WCC Ecumenical Institute, which has fostered interfaith exchanges and given students unique opportunities to discover themselves and reflect on problems of our time.

“The most important point to understand, when working in interreligious dialogue, is that it doesn’t promote relativism and indifference. Our future, the future of the world, and peace between nations are at stake. It is through faith that we become better. In the midst of real differences between religions, we refer to the same God of love”, he explained.

Mutual respect is a very important aspect, according to Eric Ackermann, officiating minister of the Great Synagogue of Geneva and president of the interreligious platform in Geneva.

“We are here to discover our common humanity, without losing our particular identities, and to respect each other for how we are and what we stand for. We all have treasures in our own respective religions which become clearer and are easier to appreciate when we engage in dialogue with one another”, he pointed out.

This year’s course is coordinated by Rev. Prof Dr Simone Sinn, professor of ecumenical theology at the Ecumenical Institute. ”I am very excited by the curiosity and openness of the students to learn from one another”, she concludes.


The Ecumenical Institute

Learn more about “Strengthening inter-religious trust and respect”

Learn more about “Christian self-understanding amid many religions”


Interreligious Studies at Bossey Institute