World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Message to the Churches in Ivory Coast

10 March 2003


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On the occasion of the visit to Ivory Coast by a delegation from the World Council
of Churches and the All Africa Conference of Churches, I should like to pass on
to you our message of communion and Christian solidarity.

When the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches wrote to you on 10
October, 2002, we had no way of knowing that the crisis which overtook your country
would last for so long. Even now, you find yourselves living in a climate of great
uncertainty, marked both by the fear that the situation will worsen and the hope
that a solution can be reached through negotiation. The threat of violence and civil
war remains, together with all the suffering it entails for the people.

The move to send a delegation, a tangible example of the "fellowship of churches"
that is the WCC and the AACC, is proof of our firm resolve to stand by you
in these difficult times. Above all, we want better to understand the underlying
causes of the events we hear about in the news and which are tearing Ivory Coast
apart. Then, together with you, we wish to explore the various possibilities of
concrete and courageous witness on the part of the churches, in order to help find
the solutions which will allow the nation and its people to rebuild unity and look
to the future. We hope that your actions will be based on understanding and cooperation
with other faith communities, especially the Roman Catholic Church and
the Muslim community. Unity of action by men and women of faith will demonstrate
that it is possible to act above and beyond the divisions imposed on your
country by the current conflict.

In such a situation, it is vital that we make clear our belief that violence and war
are against God's will. We bear witness to our faith in a merciful God who brings
love, justice and peace. This act of witness to God is irreconcilable with the call
to mutual hatred and armed confrontation. The Christian Church has always borne
a message of peace, of the desire to overcome conflict through negotiation and
the opening up of non-violent channels of communication, as well as reconciliation
to heal the wounds that we inflict on one another.

The World Council of Churches and its member churches wish to comfort you
and be with you. When one part of the body suffers an injury, the whole body
shares in that suffering. The World Council of Churches and the All Africa
Conference of Churches are ready to support you in your actions as best they can,
should you so wish.

At the beginning of Lent, we should like to remember the passion of Christ and
the hope of his resurrection, the unwavering promise that God has already defeated
evil.

Georges Lemopoulos
Deputy General Secretary