From the Worldwide Faith News archives

WCC/Kosovo: religious communities as peacemakers

From "WCC Media" <>
Date Tue, 30 Mar 2004 13:08:20 +0200

World Council of Churches
Update Up-04-17
For Immediate Use
30 March 2004

Kosovo: Religious communities to be taken seriously as partners
in long-term peace-building

The following press release is jointly released by the
Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the World Council of
Churches (WCC)

Cf. Press Update Up-04-16 of 19 March 2004

The "failure to see and prevent" the recent outbreak of violence
in Kosovo "must not be downplayed in the desire to see a speedy
return to normality", and "religious communities in the region be
taken seriously as partners in long-term peace-building", the
World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Conference of European
Churches (CEC) say in a joint letter to Mr Harri Holkeri, head of
the United Nations Interim Administration of Kosovo (UNMIK).

The letter, signed by the WCC and CEC general secretaries, Rev.
Dr Samuel Kobia and Rev. Dr Keith Clements respectively, follows
another joint message on the Kosovo crisis, sent on 19 March to
His Holiness Pavle, Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

"In addition to the suffering of the people", CEC and WCC write
to UNMIK, "the deliberate attacks on religious buildings, that
have tremendous sentimental value for the people of the region,
are of special significance... In the Balkan region they
symbolize the very identity of a community and its right to live
freely and to flourish in a particular place. Any attack on such
buildings is bound to be construed as an expulsion order".

In the Balkan context, religion is often seen "as a factor
making for antagonism", but it should rather be "viewed for the
potential it can offer for reconciliation, and religious
communities in the region be taken seriously as partners in
long-term peace-building". 

CEC and WCC also stress the "vital role" of  "non-governmental
organisations, relief and development agencies (church-related
and others),  peace-building organisations and the churches
themselves" in the building of a "civil society incorporating the
values of respect for human dignity, tolerance, participation and
democracy, without which there can be no stable and peaceful
future". Many in this "constituency of service" have been
dismayed by recent events "which they fear will have damaging
consequences for much of what they have achieved thus far, and
will make their future efforts even more challenging". It is
therefore "vital that they be given the confidence that in Kosovo
they have a continuing and strengthened framework of stability
and security such as can only be provided by an adequate and
effective UNMIK".

The concern of WCC and CEC is that UNMIK and the NATO forces in
Kosovo (KFOR) should be given "adequate resources" to fulfil
their mandate. 

"At a time when much of the international attention is focusing
on serious situations elsewhere in the world, it is perhaps
understandable that Kosovo and the Balkans as a whole now seem to
present less of a threat to peace, and a less urgent call on
resources. This would be seriously to misunderstand the
situation. Kosovo not only remains a delicate and explosive scene
in itself, but carries with it much wider implications".

The full text of the joint 29 March 2004 letter is available on
our website at: 

WCC and CEC letters sent 16 August 2002:

More information on "The churches and the Kosovo crisis"

For further information, please contact Juan Michel, WCC  media
relations officer,  tel: +41 22 791 6153, mobile +41 79 507 6363,  


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 Samuel Kobia from the Methodist Church in Kenya.

World Council of Churches
Media Relations Office
Tel: (41 22) 791 6153 / 791 6421
Fax: (41 22) 798 1346

PO Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland

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