Anglican Bishop in Europe: KAICIID's Work with People Seeking Refuge in Europe is Vital

19 Jun 2019

A week after Austrian Parliament voted to cancel the seat agreement of KAICIID and to forfeit the country’s position as one of the Centre’s member states, support from religious communities in Austria, Europe and the world keeps coming in.

The Anglican Bishop in Europe, The Rt Revd Dr Robert Innes, emphasised that the work of KAICIID with people seeking refuge in Europe is vital.  The Bishop commented that “the future of our continent will depend in large part on the inclusion of newly arriving religious and cultural minorities into the fabric of European societies. Interreligious and intercultural dialogues are powerful tools to support the integration process for new arrivals when implemented at local level; and KAICIID replicates these projects on a larger scale.”  Bishop Robert also noted “the dialogues that KAICIID initiates are contributing to enhanced social cohesion in Europe.” 

 

Full statement from Bishop Robert Innes on KAICIID:

"One of the greatest challenges of our age is how we live harmoniously with the great differences among people in societies across the world.  Intercommunal tension, strife and extremism are on the rise. We are realising that we live in close proximity to “others”, but we do not live as neighbours. We may be polite to one other, but we do not live as compatriots with a deeply rooted sense of connection or shared citizenship.

The International Dialogue Centre in Vienna (KAICIID) was created with the understanding that, whilst there are significant differences between our societies, and increasingly within them, there are also opportunities for co-operation and sharing around common issues and values. But to know what values we have in common, there must be deeper levels of engagement in safe places for dialogue, where people feel confident to speak from their core convictions and beliefs.

Religious and cultural diversity has played a significant role in European history, often provoking conflict. This diversity is going to increase. In Europe’s present and future, the movement of Muslims and Christians as well as other religious minorities from the Africa and the Middle East, will play a pivotal role.

Therefore, the work of KAICIID with people seeking refuge in Europe is vital. The future of our continent will depend in large part on the inclusion of newly arriving religious and cultural minorities into the fabric of European societies. Interreligious and intercultural dialogues are powerful tools to support the integration process for new arrivals when implemented at local level; and KAICIID replicates these projects on a larger scale.

The dialogues that KAICIID initiates are contributing to enhanced social cohesion in Europe.  One example is the initiative between European Muslim and Jewish leaders in The Muslim Jewish Leadership Council (MJLC). This collaborative work is helping leaders from the two groups to build mutual respect, to explore ways to protect the rights of religious minorities and to counter the fear that leads to damaging discrimination.  

I add my voice to those of many other faith leaders in expressing support for KAICIID’s work in Europe, as well as in other countries such as Iraq and Syria, Nigeria, Central Africa Republic and Myanmar.

I fear that the closure of the Centre will leave a void that other existing organizations are unable to fill".

 

The Rt. Revd. Dr. Robert Innes,

Bishop of the Church of England Diocese in Europe