WCC adopts statements on contemporary public issues
South Africa, Australia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, French Polynesia (Maohi Nui), Pakistan, Syria and Myanmar have provided the subjects for statements and minutes of concern voiced by the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) as part of public issues actions during a recent meeting of that governing body at the Orthodox Academy of Crete in Kolympari, Greece.
Informed by witnesses in the affected nations and by reports from observers representing the WCC and its 349 member churches, the Central Committee called for prayer and ministries of support for all who are suffering as a result of social injustice, human rights violations and prejudice among peoples.
Responding to the August 16 massacre of protestors at the Marikana-Lonmin mine in South Africa, the Central Committee called for a commission of enquiry and urged civil authorities “to prosecute those individuals who are directly responsible for the deaths that occurred”.
All sides were encouraged to return to the negotiating table, and to take steps toward the healing of divisions. The Central Committee pledged that the WCC “stands in solidarity with the churches of South Africa as they seek to minister and bring healing to the families that lost their loved ones in the massacre, and to all who have been affected by this terrible situation.”
In recalling a long-standing commitment, the committee reaffirmed WCC “solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of Australia, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples”. Member churches in the area were asked to promote the human rights of all, to protest proposals implemented in the absence of meaningful dialogue with those most affected and to join in “continuing to advocate for policies that build partnerships between Indigenous communities and the Australian government”.
The WCC Central Committee called for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to release from his imprisonment Archbishop Jovan of Ochrid, who is also Metropolitan of Skopje, of the Serbian Orthodox Church.
The archbishop was arrested when crossing the border from Greece in December 2011 and convicted in absentia before being sentenced to solitary confinement. Amnesty International has recognised Archbishop Jovan as “a prisoner of conscience”. The Central Committee encouraged the WCC international affairs commission “to organise a solidarity visit and continue to advocate for the release of Archbishop Jovan.”
A statement on “the current financial and economic crisis with a focus on Greece”, where the Central Committee was meeting, reviewed the fiscal situation in Europe today and concluded that “the church is being called upon to defend the dignity of all people, as made in the image of God. The crisis is spiritual and moral, as well as economic.”
Supporting the idea of “a financial transaction tax (FTT) as a sensible tool”, the Central Committee urged the churches of Europe “to stand together and to advocate for common European solutions to the financial and social crisis” and “mobilise and to support one another for the immediate relief and assistance of the weakest members of our society.”
The Central Committee also called for the re-inscription of French Polynesia (Maohi Nui) on the United Nations list of colonies to be prepared for independence.
The WCC has urged the government of Pakistan “to take immediate action to prevent the abduction, forced conversion to Islam and forced marriage of young women from minority religious communities” and has called for “adequate protection mechanisms for all religious minorities in the country”.
On the subject of ongoing violence in Syria, the Central Committee called “for all parties to engage in dialogue – as the only solution – in order to safeguard the unity and pluralistic nature of historic Syria” and “to respect the ability and responsibility of the Syrian people to find solutions to the crisis, and to refrain from outside military interventions”.
In addition, the Central Committee hailed the churches of Myanmar for their initiatives aimed at building peace in that country. A WCC statement has encouraged the Myanmar churches to continue “to advocate for the cessation of violence against the Muslim Rohingyas and a safe return of internally displaced Rohingyas to their homes.”
The Central Committee approved a recommendation that public issues statements be prepared for the 10th Assembly of the WCC on the following topics: Freedom of religion and rights of all religious communities in the context of the politicisation of religion; Peace and reunification in the context of the Korean Peninsula; and the concept of “Just peace”.
The 10th Assembly of the WCC is scheduled for late October and early November 2013 in Busan, Republic of Korea.