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Message from the World Council of Churches' newly-elected President,

30 June 2006

30 June, 2006

The theme of the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches which took
place in Porto Alegre, Brazil, has reinforced the communion and the fellowship
of the members of the Universal Church, the Body of Christ, through this faithful
prayer: "God, in your grace, transform the world". This prayer is an expression
of hope and trust in God who called us to work for and with him under the
guidance of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of His Kingdom.

I wish to express my deep gratitude to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church,
the Ethiopian people and the government, for the way you welcomed my election
as WCC President by the Assembly in Porto Alegre. I was moved by many
messages of support that I continue to receive from a wide spectrum of our society.

This is tremendously encouraging to me. Your support and goodwill is a big
source of strength for me as I undertake this important seven-year responsibility
in the service of the ecumenical movement.

As we face many challenges in today's world and particularly in Africa, the churches
and the ecumenical movement need to pray and hope that God's grace will
transform us continuously. We, as believers in the one who came to bring life in
all its fullness, are charged with the mission to build a transformed world and a
new Africa where justice and peace will prevail.

I am fully aware that the world today is faced with intractable conflicts. All levels
of society are characterized by violence of one sort or another: domestic violence,
violence in our towns and cities, civil wars, as well as violence at the global
level. The victims of the violence are ordinary citizens, especially children and
women, who are the most vulnerable in the society. Africa has her share of conflicts.
Thankfully, some of the protracted conflicts have been resolved or are in
the process of being resolved as in the cases of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Sudan.

Yet a great deal more needs to be done. The Great Lakes region and the Horn of
Africa remain among the most volatile situations in Africa.

Violence in some countries in the Great Lakes Region affects all the neighbouring
countries, causing death and desolation of millions of people. As President of
the World Council of Churches and Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo
Church, I appeal to all parties concerned to resort to dialogue as the means of
resolving any conflicts in order to spare the people the pain and suffering they
have been made to endure over the years.

I strongly hope and pray that the conflicts in the Horn of Africa, especially between
Ethiopia and Eritrea, will soon find a permanent peaceful solution. As President
of the World Council of Churches, I call upon all people of faith in both countries
to work with the political leaders to accelerate the coming of lasting peace.

Because, as we all know, war and violence destroy not only properties but also the
dignity and lives of people made in the image of God.

Coming closer to home, I know we face enormous challenges on all fronts. We
welcome the democratic gains achieved so far in Ethiopia. But we realize that
social transformation is a long process. While consolidating the gains, we need
to double our efforts at dialogue so as to resolve any lingering problems peacefully.

As Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and as President
of the WCC I am at the disposal of the political leadership and the society. Ethiopia
is big enough for all to participate and contribute to building a just, peaceful and
participatory society where all citizens will experience life in dignity.

I therefore encourage everyone in my country and in our beloved continent to
work for dialogue instead of confrontation which generates violence.

May the God of peace and love be with us and bless our people.

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