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In Argentina, WCC general secretary affirms call for pilgrimage of justice and peace

In Argentina, WCC general secretary affirms call for pilgrimage of justice and peace

WCC delegates at the offices of the Evangelical Church of the River Plate in Buenos Aires. © WCC/Daniel Favaro

27 August 2015

“Join the pilgrimage of justice and peace! Stand up for the creation that is threatened, for justice and peace, so that people may gain hope so that life will flourish. The most severe threat to basic human rights here in the next decades will be the dramatic effects of climate change. This is what eco-justice means.” This was a message from Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), conveyed at a public event of the Argentina Chancellery on 26 August in Buenos Aires.

“Resist the powers that lead us only deeper into injustice, violence and the destruction of our livelihoods. On our way together, let us not give up after the first setbacks and disappointments, but let us set off again, seeking God’s presence each day in prayer, looking for companions for life,” he said.

The WCC general secretary was reflecting on the meaning and implications of a “pilgrimage of justice and peace” which is a call issued by the WCC’s Busan Assembly in 2013.

Tveit is currently in Argentina as part of a two-week visit to the WCC member churches and partner organizations in Latin America aimed at strengthening of mutual relationships.

Tveit said the call to a pilgrimage of justice and peace in one sense is a continuation of the theme of the WCC 9th Assembly: “God in your grace, transform the world!” The Assembly was held in Latin America at Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2006, and it urged churches’ engagement in “transformative action”.

The contributions from the Argentinean churches to world Christianity were remembered by the WCC general secretary. “Argentina has been blessed with some very effective ambassadors,” he said. Tveit particularly remembered liberation theologian José Miguez-Bonino. He said Miguez-Bonino inspired him to see “new ways of bringing the integrity of the one ecumenical movement forward through a focus on mutual accountability.” Tveit also spoke of Pope Francis, calling him the “most outstanding Argentinian ambassador” who has highlighted issues related to economy, climate change and the poor.

The WCC general secretary also shared updates about the on-going work of the WCC and its member churches in response to the call for a pilgrimage of justice and peace. He stressed that this call is an inspiration for the churches to move together in pursuit of this vision.

Transformation, justice and climate change

Tveit said: “The pilgrimage of justice and peace is a spiritually grounded transformative journey. It defines and articulates in a new way the quality of the ecumenical movement, the interrelatedness of its different dimensions, the new partnerships that need to be formed and its goal. Speaking of a pilgrimage that combines spiritual dimensions of prayer and worship and practical action for justice and peace, we are reminded that Christian life and identity are part of something greater than ourselves, something which binds us together in solidarity with each other as an expression of God’s grace and love.”

On the same day, the WCC delegation was received in an audience with the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Mario Poli, and met with the Argentinean chancellor Héctor Timerman at the headquarters of the ministry for external affairs. In the conversation with Timerman, Tveit explored the relationship between justice and the work to overcome climate change, where countries like Argentina should have a lot to contribute.

The WCC delegation also visited head offices of the Evangelical Church of the River Plate (IERP) and learned about their work and ministry. Among the IERP representatives were Rev. Bernardo Spretz, vice president, Rev. Sonia Skupch, general secretary, Nicolás Rosenthal, executive director of Hora de Obrar Foundation, and David Cela Heffel, assistant for ecumenical relations.

“Besides its strong ecumenical engagement, the IERP showed us that it is a church committed to the local social context and considers as a priority the task of taking the word of the kingdom of God to those who need the most”, said WCC president for Latin America and the Caribbean Rev. Gloria Ulloa after the visit.

Tveit is leading the WCC delegation in Argentina, which includes Rev. Gloria Ulloa, WCC president for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Dr Marcelo Schneider, WCC communication liaison. The delegation will also visit Chile, Brazil and Colombia until 7 September.

Read full text of the WCC general secretary’s speech in Argentina

WCC Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace

WCC member churches in Latin America