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Minute on the responsibility of churches for communities enduring anti-Christian violence

02 September 2009

1. Christian communities in many parts of the world today are the targets of different forms of religiously motivated violence or find themselves under threat and intimidation. In many cases exacerbated by ethnic conflict and frequently in the midst of war and even following in times of peace, these Christians often find their governments unable or unwilling to fulfil their responsibility to protect. We have noted a decline of religious freedom in many parts of the world and an increase of religious intolerance. Acknowledging the responsibility of each part of the Body of Christ for the whole Body and remembering the New Testament call to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15), to “contribute to the needs of the saints” (Romans 12:13), and “to bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), the central committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC), meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, 26 August - 2 September 2009:

A. Challenges its member churches to hear the cries of sisters and brothers in Christ enduring violence, threat and intimidation throughout the world and to give voice to their suffering so that their pain will not be ignored; pray without ceasing for an end to violence and a restoration of life; engage in acts of costly solidarity such as pastoral visits, generous sharing of financial resources, sending letters of support and consolation and, when possible, offering hospitality and sanctuary to those who are forced to become refugees while at the same time helping to facilitate their repatriation.

B. Asks its member churches to engage in public witness challenging their own and, when appropriate, other governments to protect the lives of citizens in accordance with international standards of human rights.

C. Lifts up the programme “Accompanying Churches in Situations of Conflict” and calls upon the general secretary and officers of the WCC to stand in the forefront of the witness for religious freedom, monitoring situations of violence and alerting its member churches, facilitating ecumenical responses, organizing ecumenical visits of solidarity, and addressing governments and international organizations calling on them to protect those who are vulnerable.

D. Requests the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs to develop policy and proposals for supporting religious freedom in multi-faith contexts and effectively engaging the churches in the defence of Christians experiencing violence.

E. Encourages churches in all contexts to demonstrate interfaith sensitivity in their witness, by preaching and teaching against retaliation, honouring the right to religious freedom for all.

F. Reminds the churches that their witness against anti-Christian violence is made more credible when it is matched by a clear commitment to protect all vulnerable persons and communities regardless of their religious identity.

 

The following prayer is offered as a resource to enable the churches’ engagement with the issue articulated above:

Gracious God and Saviour, the friend of all who suffer
and the hope of all who are driven toward despair,
make us willing and ready to share the violation of those
who have had the Cross pressed upon them.
May our embrace offer consolation and our voice call forth justice.
And in all circumstances may ours be a ministry not of vengeance,
but reconciliation, through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.