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Open letter to government leaders and churches concerning Haiti

17 June 2010

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit,
General Secretary of the World Council of Churches

17.06.2010

I have just returned from a visit to Haiti, heading an ecumenical delegation of seven brothers and sisters representing the World Council of Churches and churches, councils and conferences of churches in the Latin American and Caribbean regions and France, as well as the international ACT (Action by Churches Together) Alliance. The purpose of the visit, which took place during 14-16 June 2010, was again to express solidarity with the victims of the 12 January earthquake, offer pastoral accompaniment, reflect on the main issues in Haiti that confront the world and address the current challenges the churches are facing as they try faithfully to serve the Haitian people, particularly those in greatest need.

I return from Haiti with deep respect for the resilience and the faith of the Haitian people and churches. Now is the time for a new beginning for all in Haiti and this is possible if there is a common will to make it so.

The visit, which was graciously hosted by the Protestant Federation of Haiti, also aimed at helping the ecumenical family to continue advocating and working together with the Haitians in the reconstruction of the country, based on social justice and the self-determination of the population.

As we depart from this beautiful country, so severely hit by injustice, lack of political stability and accountability as well as natural catastrophes over so many years, we say: Let this be the time of a new beginning for all the people of Haiti. In Haiti we see so many from outside coming to give aid and to help. Still, I would like to remind governments and world leaders of the pressing needs in Haiti, and I wish to call upon the member churches and ecumenical partners of the World Council of Churches:

  1. Do not forget the people of Haiti, even though most of the camera lenses have turned elsewhere. Our unity and solidarity with the people of Haiti are vital. It is critical in this phase of reconstruction, after the phase of dire emergency that the persons who are living in tents move to more permanent housing. This is urgently needed, and it is a matter of dignity, sanity and safety, particularly during the hurricane season which has already started. There can be no legitimate reasons for delaying this process, particularly not the lack of access to land for building or a lack of resources. The future of Haiti requires a continued real sharing, nationally and internationally. The poorest people of Haiti has suffered enough,
  2. Join in supporting the determined efforts of Haitians as they undertake a reconstruction process. This process must be participatory and fully accountable to those now living in tents, those who struggle to rebuild their lives, those who are still recovering from injuries, those who mourn, those whom Christ numbered among “the least of these, my brothers and sisters” (Mat. 25:45).

It is imperative that we act as one while lending a hand to Haitians who are striving to shape their common future. For churches, it is essential to reflect, in times like these, what it means to be one in Christ, locally, regionally and globally. We are called to unity, to serve as churches who speak with a common voice for justice and who care for the life of our neighbour, and who take common action together with partners such as the ACT Alliance and others.

As we continue our journey together in this spirit, I would like to leave this message with our brothers and sisters in Haiti: “May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 15: 5-6).

In gratitude and hope,

Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit
WCC General Secretary