World Council of Churches -
Contact: + 41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
For immediate release:
27 November 2006
Taiwan: Kobia evokes "spiritual and practical" ecumenism, affirms WCC's "relentless" opposition to nuclear weapons
High resolution photos available, see below
"The way we live our faith as churches ecumenically informs our common witness, just as our failure to act together and to give a clear witness to the world reflects our failure to be church," World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia said in an address to theology teachers and students in Taipei City.
On the first full day of his 23-26 November visit to Taiwan, Kobia was addressing faculty and students of the Taiwan Theological College and Seminary, which dates back to 1872. "Ecumenism cannot be separated into spiritual or justice-oriented ecumenism, nor into church-based or world-open ecumenism. These different aspects belong together," he said.
"Our Christian faith is deeply spiritual and practical. The Christ whose presence we celebrate in the eucharist is the same who is among us in the least of our sisters and brothers. The liturgy we celebrate in church extends into the liturgy of our daily lives," he added.
The visit to the seminary was the first stage of a pastoral visit to the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan (PCT) paid by the WCC general secretary and a five-person ecumenical delegation.
The delegation next visited PCT's General Assembly office to engage with members of the secretariat, programme staff and representatives of the Ecumenical and International Relations Committee.
Extending a warm welcome on behalf of the PCT, general secretary Rev. Chang Te-Chien noted: "It is our hope and prayer that our unique partnership in the ecumenical family will continue to move forward in the true spirit of
as we strive to faithfully fulfil our mission calling on local, regional and global levels."
In his remarks, Kobia underscored that "The more we engage together as churches, the more we become fully church. And that is what the ecumenical movement is all about. It is that space which brings churches together to witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ and to engage together to overcome any divisions we may have, doctrinally or otherwise."
Rid the world of nuclear weapons
Among the issues discussed, some PCT members expressed concerns about Taiwan's vulnerability due to the increasing proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region, especially the threat from China and North Korea.
"The World Council of Churches' policy on nuclear proliferation is very clear," Kobia responded. "The world should be rid of nuclear weapons. WCC calls for all countries with nuclear weapons not simply to commit to not using them, but to destroy them entirely."
"No country should claim nuclear weapons for themselves and at the same time question the right of others to have them. The WCC has made representation to the United Nations and has addressed all countries presently possessing nuclear weapons, including the most recent one, North Korea."
"The Council is working with those countries who have had the capacity to develop nuclear weapons but have chosen not to do so, such as South Africa and Brazil," Kobia continued. "They are the only countries who have the moral authority to say 'stop.' Although this is an extremely difficult issue in our world today, the WCC will remain relentless in pursuing an end to nuclear weapons."
On the previous evening, Kobia and the members of the WCC delegation were guests at a reception attended by senior leaders of various Protestant denominations in Taiwan.
The ecumenical delegation accompanying the WCC general secretary was composed of Rev. Dr Tyrone Pitts (WCC central committee member, general secretary of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, USA); Rev. Dr Seong-Won Park (WCC central committee member, from the Presbyterian Church of Korea, South Korea); Rev. Fr Gabriel Papanicolaou (ecumenical officer of the Church of Greece); Dr Mathews George Chunakara (WCC Asia secretary); and, as a communications consultant to the delegation, Rev. Deborah DeWinter (WCC programme executive for the United States).
Dr Kobia's 24 November lecture at the
Taiwan Theological College and Seminary
is available on the WCC website at:
See previous releases:
This material may be reprinted freely.
Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 349 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church. The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, from the [Lutheran] Church of Norway. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.