From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Title: Churches on globalisation: A different world is possible
"WCC Media" <Media@wcc-coe.org>
Fri, 02 May 2003 13:35:29 +0200
World Council of Churches
For Immediate Use
A different world is possible ! A different world is necessary!
Free photos available, see below.
Representatives of Latin American and Caribbean churches have called for a
united front to demand the abolition of foreign debt, describing it as,
"immoral, impossible and never-ending".
The call is made in a message addressed to Protestant churches in the region
at the end of a continent-wide consultation on "Globalising the fullness of
life" that took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 28 April - 1 May.
Participants rejected the projected Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)
and "militarization" of the region by the United States, and called for a
"broad and deep integration, based on human rights and the stewardship of
Convened by the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) and co-sponsored by
the World Council of Churches (WCC) and other ecumenical organizations, the
consultation focused on the impact of globalisation and economic integration
in the region.
More than 100 representatives, including some from Europe, Africa, Asia and
North America, also discussed what forms of pastoral care churches could
offer to offset the exclusion and poverty generated by the policies pushed by
international financial institutions.
"We have listened to the agonised cries from Latin America and the Caribbean,
saying 'Enough is enough!' Humanity cannot continue to suffer this oppression
that threatens human life and the entire planet we inhabit," the message
Among other things, the document criticised the George W. Bush
administration's bid to religiously legitimise its policies. What is worse,
it said, is that the system "is led by leaders who use the Christian faith to
justify themselves and their plans for the future".
In a letter addressed to the churches in the US, Canada and Europe,
representatives recognised the churches' "decisive and clear testimony in
favour of life" and "commitment to peace and justice". This was "particularly
notable in the clear position that the majority [of them] recently adopted
regarding the invasion of Iraq by the allied military forces".
In the final message, representatives called on the faithful to carry out an
"intense search" for the "deep-seated reasons for the huge increase in the
number of victims of the socio-political and economic system dominant in our
They also noted a growing demand on the part of churches and societies to
recognise the "sinful and hypocritical nature of the system that governs us",
and make this "a matter of faith which must be urgently put into practice".
As well as rejecting foreign debt, the leaders called on people to focus on
the "internal social debt", and attributed the latter to neglect of, amongst
other things, people's needs in health, work, food, education, land and
The consultation included times of fellowship, study, exchange of
experiences, worship and presentations by theologians, biblical scholars, and
social scientists on the themes of CLAI's Faith, Economics and Society
The consultation participants agreed that humanity is living through "an
apocalyptic moment in history". An empire is revealed "that reveres the
market rather than God, and which has been expanding and growing increasingly
arrogant. It has shown its true colours" in the "scandalous invasion of
Iraq," states the document.
Representatives stressed the "challenges and unavoidable responsibilities"
facing churches, and the choice "either to denounce the perversity of the
current economic project, or be accomplices of the destruction that threatens
the entire human family and all of creation".
While it recognised the "extraordinary growth" of churches throughout America
and their "potential for witness, service and responsible participation", the
representatives also cautioned against the "immaturity, incapacity and lack
of courage that has sometimes been shown [by the churches] when it is time to
take responsibility in social, political and economic arenas".
In the same critical vein, the document points out that some church leaders
"were not prepared for the role entrusted to them" in that field, and showed
"extreme short-sightedness and no sense of purpose".
Based on this assessment, they called for "fast, broad and thorough education
and training for our congregations and organisations, both confessional and
ecumenical, in order to ensure a faithful and coherent participation in the
great ethical and spiritual struggle that we face".
Representatives called on the faithful to proclaim Christian hope to "a
generation which lives with great discouragement and walks in the 'shadow of
death', but also has great expectations".
"A different world is possible! A different world is necessary! Because of
the resurrection of Jesus Christ we also believe, like our Aymara brothers
and sisters, that Payi machaq qhantati (The darkest hour of the night comes
just before dawn)", the final message concludes.
Discussion at the consultation focused on the document "Looking for solutions
... moving forward. Protestant churches say 'Enough is enough!'", written by
sociologists, economists, theologians and pastors. The final text will be
published by CLAI later this year.
Evaluating the consultation, CLAI general secretary Israel Batista said that
one of the principal conclusions was the "need for greater dialogue between
churches in the South and in the North".
WCC executive secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean Marta Palma
praised the contribution of participants who came from other regions of the
world, which enriched the discussions.
The consultation is part of a process that began in 2001 with regional
consultations in Eastern Europe and the Pacific. Similar consultations are
planned next year in the United States and the Middle East. A synthesis of
the process will be drafted in 2005.
The Buenos Aires consultation was preceded by a 24-27 April continent-wide
"Youth and Globalisation" meeting that brought together young people in the
Free photos to accompany articles based on this update are available on our
The final message from the consultation, and the letter to the churches in
the North is available at:
Cf. Press Updates, UP-03-19/18/17, of 01 May, 30 and 29 April 2003
Cf. Press Release, PR-03-16, of 24 April 2003
For further information, please contact the Media Relations Office, tel: +41
(0)22 791 64 21 / 61 53
The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a fellowship of churches, now 342, in
more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian
traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works
cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which
meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in
1948 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary
Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.
World Council of Churches
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Tel: (41 22) 791 6153 / 791 6421
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