Consejo Mundial de Iglesias
Contacto: + 41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
Para publicación inmediata:
20 de diciembre de 2007
Ecumenical initiative to accompany churches in conflict situations
A new World Council of Churches (WCC) initiative aimed at supporting Christians living in conflict situations around the world has begun. "When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers with it," Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the WCC said in a videotaped address to experts in international relations and ecumenical partners at a recent consultation held in Geneva, 8-10 December.
Many situations of conflict today have some basis in religion, he said, adding that providing support and accompaniment includes finding creative methods to engage other religious leaders in finding strategies that lead to justice and peace.
"We have new martyrs in Iraq", said Baghdad's Armenian Archbishop Avak Asadourian, the primate of the Armenian Apostolic Church (See of Etchmiadzin) in Iraq. He recalled that Christians used to enjoy a "good life" in an "innocent Iraq", where "amicable coexistence" with "Muslim brothers and sisters" was the norm.
However, today, some extremist groups identify Christians with the West and make them "targets". Nonetheless church leaders continue to play an important role in sustaining the community and contributing to the reconciliation process together with Shi'a and Sunni religious leaders.
In Pakistan, religious minorities are often denied basic civil liberties, including religious freedom, in spite of guarantees inscribed in the letter of the constitution, explained Bishop Munawar Rumalshah, head of the Peshawar diocese of the Church of Pakistan.
A vivid example of the hardships Pakistani Christians face shocked participants when in midst of the consultation news broke of the kidnapping by unknown gunmen of two staff members – a doctor and a driver – from the church's hospital in Bannu, a district of half a million inhabitants in the North West Frontier Province. "We are a fragile […] part of the body of Christ, please come over and help us", Rumalshah said.
In addition to Iraq and Pakistan participants shared first hand information on conflict situations and stories of reconciliation from Sudan, South and South-East Asia and the Middle East.
"It was not only a brain-storming, but a heart-storming session", said Rev. Dr Shanta Premawardhana, director of the WCC's programme on Inter-religious dialogue and cooperation.
"Listening to real-life stories from real people allowed us to gain a deeper theological as well as practical insight on how to accompany communities in situations of conflict. The kidnapping in Pakistan highlighted the urgency of the issue. As we heard the story, shared the pain and lifted in prayer that situation, we actually engaged in an act of accompaniment," he added.
The project "Accompanying churches in situations of conflict" will endeavour to express solidarity between members of the one body of Christ, while keeping in dynamic tension the fact that conflict situations affect other faith groups. The next step is to identify ways in which its intervention will lead to concrete and effective action.
Local churches' engagement, multilateral dialogues and regional cooperation will be part of the project's action. It will also seek to engage other faith communities, as the project aims to hold together interreligious dialogue and advocacy.
Accompanying churches in situations of conflict:
Para más información
Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
El Consejo Mundial de Iglesias promueve la unidad cristiana en la fe, el testimonio y el servicio en pro de un mundo justo y pacífico. Comunidad de iglesias fundada en 1948, el CMI reúne hoy 349 iglesias protestantes, ortodoxas, anglicanas y otras que representan a más de 560 millones de cristianos, y trabaja en cooperación con la Iglesia Católica Romana.
Su secretario general es el pastor Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, de la Iglesia (Luterana) de Noruega
. Sede: Ginebra, Suiza.