From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
WCC's Raiser Criticizes Serbian Church
04 May 1996 20:38:49
95342 WCC's Raiser Criticizes Serbian Church
by Ecumenical News International
GENEVA--The Serbian Orthodox Church was sharply criticized Sept. 14 by
World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Konrad Raiser. Raiser's
remarks came at a press conference just prior to the convening of the WCC
Central Committee here.
The Serbian church has been criticized in recent months in ecumenical
circles and in the media for its alleged close links to the Serbian cause
While the church's supporters point out that its leaders have
condemned all forms of violence and warmongering, the critics -- including
many in German, Swiss, Dutch and Scandinavian churches -- have expressed
deep anxieties about statements by the Serbian church's bishops defending
Serb interests in Bosnia and rejecting internationally brokered peace
Raiser said that he "personally" believed that "much of what we are
seeing in the Serbian Orthodox church" could be criticized in terms similar
to those adopted by the ecumenical movement with regard to pro-Hitler
Christians in Germany before World War II.
The German Evangelical Church, which was dominated by the so-called
"German Christians," or supporters of Hitler, withdrew in 1939 from the
precursor to the WCC after criticisms by the council of nationalist and
anti-Semitic statements by German church leaders.
But, while stressing that dialogue with the Serb church was needed,
Raiser added that it was also important to speak to "many other" member
churches of the WCC about the links between churches and nationalism.
Raiser defended the role of the WCC in "helping churches to enter into
dialogue with one another" and bringing together churches which would like
"to condemn one another to hell" for theological or ethical reasons. Some
church bodies in the Netherlands and Switzerland have suggested that the
Serbian Orthodox Church be suspended from international church bodies,
including the WCC.
A planned visit to Serbia by the WCC this fall to meet representatives
of the Serbian Orthodox Church has been postponed at the request of the
Serbian church, Raiser said. The Serbian Orthodox Church also refused to
send a representative to a meeting organized in Geneva by the WCC and the
Conference of European Churches to discuss the situation in the former
Yugoslavia with members of Western church bodies.
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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