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Address of the Moderator

Address by moderator Rev. Dr Walter Altmann to the WCC Central Committee at its February 2011 meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

16 February 2011

WCC Central Committee meeting, 16 - 22 February 2011

Click here to listen to a recording of the address.

Dear sisters and brothers,

1. As we gather here for this WCC central committee meeting, we are now relatively close to the Busan assembly, which is to take place in two years’ eight months’ time, four years having passed since the Porto Alegre assembly. More and more we shall be concentrating on evaluating changed situations and asking ourselves what they mean for us by way of challenges and commitments. This relates to the world scene, the ecumenical movement, the conditions under which our churches are acting, and the present and future state of the WCC itself.

I. The world scene

2. When we gathered in Porto Alegre we were aware of a number of changes taking place on the political, economic and religious scene. However, quite obviously, we were not able to discern everything. We were not able to foresee, for example, the very serious international financial crisis, nor its scale, although already for some time we had been critical of the financial speculation produced by a process of economic globalization. That process focuses not on meeting the need for a dignified life for the whole of humanity, but rather on maximizing and privatizing profit, and on an unjust concentration of goods, both the produce of the earth and of goods produced by human skill.

3. With regard to environmental issues, there have been frustrations, although we have not been greatly surprised at the failure of the negotiations in Copenhagen nor at the timidly positive results of the Cancun conference. National interests of all sorts have been put before the urgent demands facing the whole of humankind in this area. Climate changes have not only been recorded and forecast by the international scientific community, but are already being painfully felt by populations in the obvious increase in tragic natural disasters such as rising sea levels, floods, and droughts.

4. As we look at the international scene, we are certainly not surprised by the continuing serious international and domestic conflicts in many countries. Greater efforts on the part of the international community are needed for achieving peace with justice and reconciliation in almost all parts of the world. In Porto Alegre we took the decision to organize the international ecumenical peace convocation, and we shall be holding it this May in Kingston, Jamaica, with the emphasis on the key theme of a “just peace”.

5. We have certainly been surprised by one unforeseen phenomenon, that of the wave of civil protests in Arab countries, unforeseen not only in Porto Alegre but even right up to the moment when this broke out. President Obama himself has expressed amazement at the inability of the United States intelligence services to foresee the possibility of these mass demonstrations of the people’s desire for substantial changes in governments’ relations with their populations. In this case, happily, we can say that, however much power and resources may be concentrated in particular nations, not everything is foreseeable and programmable. Humankind has demonstrated that it has reserves of spiritual resources and the capacity to mobilize to challenge the powerful. But these events also bring to our attention the risks of policies that affront human dignity and oppress whole populations.

6. Even though this issue has not been at the centre of the demonstrations in the Arab countries, they also reveal once again the pressing need to achieve peace in the Middle East, a peace in which the legitimate rights of peoples are guaranteed and historical injustices righted and amends made. The inability of the nations involved to achieve this essential aim is not only due to the complexity of the situation and the large number of actors involved, but also to a persistent lack of political will to make the concessions that are essential in order to attain it. If this deadlock continues, we can see appearing over the not too distant horizon even more turbulent scenes in that region. It is therefore right for the WCC to place even more intensively on its agenda our concern for the Middle East, especially also for the Holy Land, by seeking out opportunities for dialogue and occasions for encounter between Jews, Christians and Muslims, thus contributing to creating and maintaining an atmosphere of mutual respect and recognition, on which peace with justice can be built.

7. A process of economic redistribution is taking place in the world. In many regards this can be seen as positive, since it opens up prospects of better days for a good number of nations and peoples. In fact, the international financial crisis has also had as a by-product the revelation that these nations have had economic policies that are more coherent and responsible than those of most developed nations, policies which have enabled them to cope better with the financial crisis. In a good number of countries in all continents, there has been a considerable reduction in poverty levels. Economic forecasts indicate significantly greater growth for the emerging nations than for developed countries in the coming years.

8. In various cases, these countries have adopted coherent social policies. To give an example, from my own country, in the last eight years thirty-seven million Brazilians have been able to rise from poverty towards the middle class. Thanks to the rise in the minimum wage, the social policy to support the poorest, and work-creation programmes – Brazil has created fifteen million jobs in the last eight years, and today has the lowest unemployment rate since reliable statistics were first recorded – President Lula was able to end his second term as president with an impressive approval by 87 percent of the population. His successor, Dilma Roussef, the first woman to be president of Brazil, has set as an aim for the country in her term as president the complete eradication of extreme poverty.

9. However, the international financial crisis, which was obviously not caused by the world’s poor, has also exacerbated inequality around the world, and has thrust into poverty more than half a billion people worldwide. A sharp rise in the price of foodstuffs has seriously affected the poorest sectors of the population, resulting in famine and triggering serious social unrest worldwide. This situation is all the more abhorrent because the way in which the rich nations have dealt with the financial crisis has shown that, when there is the necessary political determination, there are ample financial resources to confront the problem. A fraction of the resources made available to rescue banks and corporations would be enough to mount an efficient programme to combat world poverty. In fact, a sum equivalent to that given to their farmers by the rich nations in farm subsidies would, if allocated to the poorest countries, create jobs, increase food production and reduce poverty in a systematic way. That is why the eradication of poverty, the campaign against hunger and commitment to justice in international economic relations must remain on the WCC’s programme agenda.

II. The theme of the next assembly

10. Among the major important decisions to be taken by the central committee at this meeting, there are those connected with the coming assembly. Beginning with these decisions, the assembly will begin to take shape and to have visibility to those outside. The assembly planning committee is presenting a wide-ranging report, with a series of concrete proposals for the central committee to examine and decide on. Among them, I wish to refer to the choice of the assembly theme.

11. The assembly planning committee is proposing two themes for the central committee to examine and reach a decision on: “God of life, lead us to justice and peace” and “In God’s world, called to be one”.

12. The two proposed themes are accompanied by notes to guide the committee in its choice, giving succinct but significant factors to be borne in mind as regards implications, possible spin-offs and importance. There are also indications of the biblical texts that could inspire the development of the respective themes. I should like to give now some of my own reflections in this regard.

13. In the first place, the proposed themes should not be seen as basically alternatives, the one excluding the other. Each of them, of course, has a distinctive profile and its own perspective. But we would not be rendering a good service to the World Council of Churches and to the ecumenical movement if we entered into a discussion on the sort of interpretation that sees the first theme as focussing on the WCC’s social commitment while the second theme is calling for the unity of the churches. And then we would divide ourselves along the lines of our own personal preferences of beliefs and commitment.

14. Now, each of these two perspectives is part of the one overall understanding of the ecumenical calling and commitment that unites us in our fellowship. I have already had the opportunity to stress this holistic perspective in my earlier addresses to you. We should not separate what belongs together. An assembly theme, on the basis of its particular emphases, should encourage us in our calling and strengthen our ecumenical commitment as a whole.

15. In the second place, the assembly planning committee has carefully provided sub-themes that develop the overall theme in those aspects that are essential for the ecumenical movement and the future course of the World Council of Churches:

-       Life together in faith: unity and mission

-       Life together in hope: for justice, peace and reconciliation in the world

-       Life together in love: for a common future.

16. The fact that these proposed sub-themes are the same for each of the overall themes proposed strengthens a common understanding of these two themes. I shall now examine more closely the two themes taking into account their biblical background.

17. “God of life, lead us to justice and peace” takes its inspiration from Isaiah 42: 1-4. This is a text from the so-called Deutero-Isaiah, redacted at the time of the Babylonian exile of the leaders of the people of Israel. They were still living during the long time of testing in exile that had been announced by the prophet Jeremiah as a divine punishment for their faithlessness and the failure to observe the precepts of justice on the part of the leaders of the people of Israel (Jer. 25: 1-12). The political, military and religious elite, who had been used to the benefits of life in the royal court, had become servants, employed in manual work, an experience that made them see reality in a different light, from the perspective of those suffering pain and oppression.

18. Now, however, still under the yoke of exile, the prophet looks to the future and announces that the time of testing is coming to an end. His proclamation is not founded on immediate observation of the facts, but on the divine promise: the iniquity of the people “is forgiven” (Isa. 40:2). God’s mercy overcomes God’s wrath and on that basis the people can live, comforted and encouraged, in the present moment in the hope of new and better days.

19. A glorious future lies ahead, but the way will still be hard. This text is the first of the so-called “songs of the suffering servant”, the best known of which is in Isaiah 53, in which the servant is “pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities” (v.5), and “led like a lamb to the slaughter” (v.7). In Isaiah 42, the prophet proclaims that God has placed God’s spirit upon him in order for him to announce righteousness and justice to all nations. This is not one god among many, the god of one people alone (or, in our days, a privatized god), but the God of all nations, of the whole of humankind.

20. There have been exegetical debates ad infinitum as to whom it is that the prophet is referring when speaking of the “suffering servant”. There are many interpretations: it could be the prophet himself, the promised Messiah, or a collective group, the people of Israel themselves. It is helpful to note here that these doubts are not clarified through a mere definition. Since the early Christians, the Christian community has identified Jesus Christ as the suffering servant spoken of, because they have seen in him a perfect fulfilment of all the features described by the prophet. As the bearer of peace and justice he has proclaimed forgiveness and introduced the kingdom of God into the world by establishing new relationships with God and between human beings.

21. However, the understanding of Yahweh’s servant as a collective group is a reasonable interpretation, as well. The Christian community, by God’s grace, acknowledges that it has as its vocation “to respond to the call of the servant as a call to exercise its own servanthood as a confessing active community”.[1] The followers of the servant sent by God have the vocation to be part of his mission, to be agents of truth and reconciliation, justice and peace, of care for life – and to dedicate their lives to living this life in its fullness.

22. This, then, is also our calling as those involved in the ecumenical movement. It is thus appropriate for us to formulate our theme in the form of a prayer: “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.”

23. The second theme proposed by the assembly planning committee “In God’s world, called to be one”, draws its inspiration from John 17: 20-23, that familiar text that expresses better than any other the basis of our ecumenical calling and commitment. At a time when we are attempting to reposition ourselves in the changing scene of which we are part, it would be highly appropriate for us to revisit in a fresh way what ultimately sustains us as an expression of the ecumenical movement.

24. John 17 contains Jesus’ last words to his disciples before his arrest, condemnation and crucifixion. It is more than a “farewell speech” and contains the legacy that Jesus bequeaths to his disciples. Just as the Father and the Son are one, Jesus prays that his disciples may also be one in order that the world may believe. Unity, then, is not the result of human endeavours, although it does imply persevering in the quest for unity. Nor it is the result of establishing institutional structures, although it does take shape within them. It is a reality in the heart of God, in the economy of the Holy Trinity.

25. It is thus for us a gift and the basis for our own unity, which is constantly being shattered by human sin again and again. Our calling is, however, more than that of building unity. It is rather to persevere in that unity, not to depart from it, not rebelling against God and not breaking off relations with one another. Our ecumenical commitment - and it does require effort - consists thus, guided by the Holy Spirit, in removing the obstacles and barriers that we have set up between us in the course of history. That is the way in which we are called to be one.

26. We accept the gift of unity in faith. The removal of those barriers is a work of love. Faith leads to love. It would thus be totally wrong to attempt to separate our ecumenical commitment to unity from our practice of compassion, solidarity, justice, peacemaking, and care for the created world.

27. In a homiletical guide, Gottfried Brakemeier, the former president of the Lutheran World Federation, examines John 17: 20-23 taking into consideration also the following verses up to verse 26. Verses 20-23 examine the “nature of the community”, its calling to be one. While Jesus’ words were directed to the apostles, they have “in mind the church of all times and places. Jesus wishes it to remain faithful to its calling, proclaiming the word and maintaining unity ‘in order that the world may believe’”.[2] Following that, verses 24-26 have as their theme the “destination of the community” i.e. “the eschatological communion with their Lord. Christ’s will for his community is for them to be where he, the Risen One, is, so that they may fully participate in his glory.”[3]

28. Thus, in the event of the choice of the central committee falling on this second of the proposed themes, the World Council of Churches will not only be taking up again the basis of its ecumenical commitment, but also examining the theme of unity linked to the practice of love and directing attention eschatologically to the glory of God.

29. I would like to add a word concerning the decision making process for the theme for the next assembly. It is a decision that will be made by consensus. It is thus important that we do not view the two themes as mutually exclusive, but as different approaches to our ecumenical calling and commitment. I thus appeal to you, the members of the central committee, to associate yourselves with the assembly planning committee in considering each of these themes as relevant. On the basis of this first consensus each one of you will be able to argue for the proposal that seems most appropriate to you, but we shall all be disposed towards forming the common mind of the central committee, and freely and wholeheartedly accepting it.

III. Governance of the World Council of Churches

30. I should like also to say a word about governance. Among the documents that we are to consider at this meeting there is the comprehensive report from the Governance Review Continuation Group. As the group’s name indicates, it is continuing the ongoing process on an important issue, which is also a sensitive matter, concerning the functioning of the World Council of Churches. It is also a response to the steps taken by this central committee at its last meeting in September 2009. It makes proposals for decisions on specific points, asks for further guidance on others, and makes suggestions for the future.

31. However, the process will not reach a conclusion at this meeting. That will only happen at the Busan assembly, which is the only competent body to make the necessary changes to the Constitution and Rules. At the next central committee meeting, in September 2012, the final steps will have to be taken to send the proposals to the churches and present them to the assembly for decision. However, what we shall be doing to a large extent in this meeting will be to give shape, content and guidance for the work that remains to be done.

32. In all, with the decisions that we shall be taking here, the direction to be followed will become fairly clear and we shall already be able to discern the main outline that the structure and functioning of the World Council of Churches may have in future. Quite apart from the substance of the proposals that the continuation group are presenting to us, I want as of now to thank them for the arduous and competent work that they have done. I also thank the general secretary for having given high priority to this matter in the contacts that he has made with churches, councils and ecumenical bodies in general during his first year in post. This process of consultation, in which I have also been able to participate on some occasions, at the Edinburgh 2010 conference and the Lutheran World Federation assembly in Stuttgart in 2010, has made a major contribution to the clarity and consistency of what is being presented to us.

33. In this document, as it informs us and which we cannot fail to notice, there are considerations and suggestions taking into account the changed financial situation in which the World Council of Churches has to operate, with far fewer resources than it had at its disposal in the past. However, the proposals, if approved and implemented, will represent a considerable saving for the World Council of Churches, which is important, not only in the present situation of scarcer resources, but also for the sake of responsible stewardship itself.

34. We would, however, be mistaken if we were to understand that this work has been motivated and determined by financial considerations. On the contrary, inspired ultimately by the common understanding and vision (CUV) document and the ecumenical vision that it contains, it makes a clear distinction between governance and management and draws from that the due consequences. Consequently, it attempts to respond – and I would say affirmatively, it does respond – to the crucial question, which has long been unresolved, of defining the specific responsibilities and functions of the various organizational elements in the World Council of Churches. I have had the opportunity to experience an example of this in my own role as central committee moderator, and I repeat it here. Our present regulatory documents simply say that the central committee will elect from among its members a moderator and vice-moderator(s), taking it tacitly for granted what their function and responsibilities precisely are. Experience, however, has shown that people’s expectations surrounding this position are quite divergent. They can very high, but can also be very low! That is only one example. In our present regulatory documents there is also a need for a better definition and greater clarity on the responsibilities and prime functions of practically all the organizational elements in the World Council of Churches: presidents, central committee, executive committee and general secretary.

35. This need for better definition and greater clarity is a sensitive matter and has increased the difficulties and pain in moments of tension through which we have had to pass. The continuation group has given a clear diagnostic description of the situation and with equal clarity is making proposals in an attempt to provide a remedy. This meeting of the central committee will be giving due attention to these proposals and improving them where it judges appropriate and necessary. In this, the central committee will also be reflecting on its own role, and even on its own name, and also on its size and the frequency of its meetings. In doing this, it will be important to be able to a certain extent to stand back from the concrete model which has been the setting for our work as central committee and to which we have grown accustomed, and which, obviously permeates this meeting, in order to reflect on how this body can better direct the institution of the World Council of Churches on behalf of its member churches.

36. I think that it is also important to emphasize that the continuation group is putting forward a clear proposal as to how to reincorporate into the structural pattern of the World Council of Churches the vital role that has been played by the four historic currents of the ecumenical movement in the formation and life of the WCC (mission, life and work, faith and order, and education). It is no secret that their respective commissions are resentful of their loss of visibility in WCC structures and of their direct participation in the WCC’s deliberative bodies. Thus, although by no means intentionally, we have contributed to creating a dichotomy in the understanding and perception of the ecumenical mandate, which we must always exercise in a holistic way. In this area, too, there is also a proposal for effective participation by ACT Alliance, that new important ecumenical agency, in the life of the World Council of Churches.

37. Analogously, the proposals also seek to do justice to the close relations of ecumenical cooperation that have developed in past years or emerged in more recent years. That is done by defining spaces and ways of participation for non-member churches and other ecumenical bodies.

38. The question concerning what name to give in future to the central committee itself can be seen as a secondary matter, and, in fact, among the whole range of proposals, it is that. More important than its name, is how it is conceived and functions. However, we should not underestimate its importance in terms of visibility and of identification with our churches and partners. I know of no church that has among its governing bodies a “central committee”, and, if there are, they will be exceptions. But I do know that there are political parties that call their governing body by that name. It is certainly not the best name for an organization such as the World Council of Churches.

39. It is not easy to find a more appropriate name, as the report indicates. That is why the report, cautiously, repeatedly uses the expression “renamed central committee”. The effective proposal, out of other alternatives that have been considered, is thus “WCC conference”. Quite apart from the various preferences that we might have, I do suggest that our basic consensus could be that the worst decision, when we conduct a general revision of our structures, would be to keep the present name because we cannot agree on a new one.

40. There is, of course, still a series of other points to which the central committee will wish to give careful attention, such as maintaining wide participation by the member churches and the representational balances established by the WCC. I conclude, however, this section of my address by suggesting that we examine the continuation group’s report with an open mind, improving it where appropriate and necessary, and taking the steps that will be able to make our endeavours in future clearer and more efficient – and also less burdensome.

IV. Broadening and deepening ecumenical relations

41. In the first part of this address, I referred to the changing circumstances in which we find ourselves. I did not specifically elaborate on or mention the religious scene. The trends apparent in previous years persist: on one hand, increasing secularization, particularly in the Western world, in large urban centres and among intellectuals; on the other, a renewal of religious fervour in many other places and spaces; intense religious mobility in some areas; rigid controls over religious devotion in others; increasing religious pluralism at the global level; a change in Christianity's centre of gravity towards the South, particularly towards Africa and Asia; growth and expansion of evangelical churches, particularly Pentecostal churches and, more recently, the so-called neo-Pentecostal churches.

42. This panorama presents immense challenges to the concept and practice of ecumenism, and also to mission. Unity or fragmentation? Cooperation or competition?

43. I mentioned the challenge to broaden and deepen our relationships. In this sense, it is important for us to define as well as possible the relationship between “broaden” and “deepen”. The process of broadening cannot be undertaken at the expense of the indispensable deepening. And deepening cannot, in turn, provide an excuse for neglecting the opportunities for broadening. Both concepts must be placed not in a relationship of competition with one another, but rather in a creative tension in which we strive for both these dimensions, as a complement to each other. Just as mission and ecumenism are complementary rather than mutually exclusive terms (two sides of the same coin), the same is true for “broadening” and “deepening”. To have these concepts competing with each other is a temptation and a misrepresentation of our ecumenical commitment. To see them as complementary is a promising enterprise.

44. Incidentally, the dichotomous separation between mission and ecumenism is gradually being overcome, way beyond the institutional frontiers of the WCC, as could be experienced at the Edinburgh Conference in 2010. The theme of “unity” is increasingly and more widely becoming a common agenda, even though understanding of it can also sometimes be rather diffuse and we ourselves need to continuously address this matter.

45. The religious scene I referred to has opened new opportunities for our commitments and relationships. Already, in the 1990s, the World Council of Churches sought to understand and better define ecumenism and its own role in this context. The main result of this process of discussion was the document Towards a Common Understanding and Vision of the World Council of Churches, better known simply as the CUV. It says:

 

It is impossible to speak of the World Council of Churches apart from the ecumenical movement out of which it grew and of which it is a highly visible part. While the ecumenical movement is wider than its organizational expressions, and while the WCC is essentially the fellowship of its member churches, it serves at the same time as a prominent instrument and expression of the ecumenical movement. As such it is an advocate of the impulse for renewal which has characterized the movement from its beginnings. (CUV 2.1)

46. With this understanding, and while also emphasizing that there is only one ecumenical movement, of which the WCC is a part, the document develops a vision of the World Council of Churches and describes its relations with ecumenical councils and conferences, other ecumenical bodies (in particular, the world's Christian communities, international ecumenical organizations, Christian communities and movements), non-member churches (particularly the Roman Catholic Church and the evangelical and Pentecostal churches) and other ecumenical bodies.

47. Since then, there has been a series of new opportunities, contacts, relationships and cooperation. The Global Christian Forum, which is representative of practically all segments of Christianity, held its first global meeting in Kenya in 2007 and has its second such meeting this year in Indonesia. Although it does not have the institutional commitment of the churches which is characteristic of the World Council of Churches, it is an important meeting of the Christian family for spiritual sharing, study, reflection and prayer.

48. The year 2010 was, in this sense, particularly emblematic. A representation as broad as that of the Global Christian Forum was also evident in the study process towards the Edinburgh 2010 conference, about which the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME) sent us a detailed, restrained and transparent study highlighting the limitations of the Edinburgh 2010 process and events, but affirming its significance and relevance, as well as the convergence in understanding about mission, palpable in the Common Call at the end of the conference.

49. In this context, I should mention that in 2010, the general secretary of the WCC, Olav Fykse Tveit, was invited to address important global events: the 22nd World Pentecostal Conference, in Stockholm, Sweden, and the Third Lausanne Conference, in Cape Town, South Africa. In both instances, this was the first such address, and in a very public way provided new opportunities for respectful and fraternal relations, and for overcoming the distant and even conflictual relationships of the not so distant past. Clearly, there are many profound questions that have yet to be resolved, but caricatures and simplifications are increasingly being put aside. Where once there were barriers, today windows open and sometimes even doors.

50. These new relationships are developing on the basis of mutual respect and sensitivity, indispensable elements in the process of building the trust on which dialogue can develop in a constructive way. Respectful meetings should be followed by deepening relations, and this needs to occur on the basis of spiritual discernment and theological reflection, also in relation to those burning questions about which we have diverging perceptions and positions. Otherwise, we would be squandering all that is most profound in the ecumenical commitment. We would have the gradual dissolution of ecumenical commitment, a reduction of its substance, a withdrawal to the internal world of each church or confession with regard to everything that is substantial, which would imply a reduction of ecumenism to mere policies of good neighbourliness.

51. The most genuine ecumenical commitment yearns for and seeks a visible unity of the churches and while taking this path, we strive not only for fraternal meeting and willingness to respectfully listen to each other, but also for practical cooperation and “commonalities” in the discovery of “another” church with unsuspected riches that are perhaps absent from our “own” church, that is, riches that we ourselves lack. And this requires open minds, prayerful attitudes and rigorous theological work.

52. For this reason, the World Council of Churches is and must always continue to be a special instrument of our churches for ecumenical theological reflection that accompanies and gives consistency to our commitments and programmes. This is true for all our programmes, but we have, to this end, an important instrument in the Commission of Faith and Order that yearns to be more valued in the life of the WCC.

53. Crucially, however, it is worth recalling, in the face of all the opportunities for meeting, dialogue and cooperation that have emerged, the masterful affirmation made in the CUV document:

“Whenever people are drawn together in the name of Jesus Christ, it is the work

of the Holy Spirit. This means that all efforts aimed at promoting the unity of the church and all initiatives in which Christians seek to participate in God's healing of creation are fundamentally related.”

54. We are therefore grateful for the new opportunities that God has given us.

V. Conclusion

55. Without going into too much detail, I would not like to conclude my address without a brief but important word of gratitude as moderator. In various ways, we have gone through difficult and tense times, which required all of us to make special efforts, accompanied by an indispensable spirit of prayer. To some extent, we are still in transition, but we are already in a position to look forward to the future with renewed confidence. The World Council of Churches, with all its limitations and imperfections, is an instrument of God to achieve his will in the world. We are privileged that he has allowed us a part in this.

56. Thank you to all of you for your cooperation: member churches and ecumenical partners, members of the central committee and executive committee, vice-moderators. Thank you to the staff for their sensitivity and dedication during a process of transition with its natural complexities, intensified by a substantial reduction in available financial resources, that meant there was a need to take difficult decisions about programmes and staffing. It is natural that adjustments of this order do not occur without tension and also, here and there, without people's feelings being hurt. Thank you general secretary, that in your first year in office, you have worked so hard to establish relations of transparency, dialogue and cooperation, internally and externally. Thank you to everybody for the fact that the spirit of ecumenical commitment that brings us together and that accompanies us along a common path has prevailed.

57. However, and above all: soli Deo gloria.

 


[1] Wanda Deifelt, (in Portuguese) ‘The first Sunday after Epiphany’, in Proclamar Libertação, Editora Sinodal, São Leopoldo, 1999, p.84.

[2] Gottfried Brakemeier, (in Portuguese) ‘The seventh Sunday of Easter’, in Proclamar Libertação 29, Editora Sinodal, São Leopoldo, 2003, p.168.

[3] Ibid.