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Commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

24 April 2005

Message to the WCC member churches, 14 April, 2005

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

As you are aware, the issue of human rights, justice and peace has been high on
the agenda of the Council since its inception. Advocacy for victims of human
rights violations is a gospel imperative rather than an option.

In keeping with this longstanding tradition, the Central Committee of the World
Council of Churches, which met in Geneva between 15 and 22 February, 2005,
proposed a day of memory of the Armenian Genocide and to consider future appropriate
action related to the 90 years' commemoration of the first genocide of the
20th century.

The decision of the Central Committee was in keeping with international norms
and standards of human rights and humanitarian law, which clearly state that
"disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged
the conscience of mankind…" Barbarous acts and crimes against humanity have
continued despite the progress made in promotion and defence of human rights.

For churches and Christians, this is a challenge to their faith, for they hold all life

We hope services held all over the world on 24th April would encourage churches
and Christians to reflect on truth, justice, repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation
and healing of society. As the Moderator of the World Council of Churches
Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia in his report to the February 2005 Central Committee
pointed out: "The acceptance of truth is the sine qua non condition for forgiveness. Guilt
must be admitted; truth must be told. The acknowledgement of truth in its totality is the
first concrete and hopeful step towards a new beginning. Healing is generated primarily
through truth-telling."

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the people and the churches of
Armenia as they prayerfully commemorate this tragedy.

Yours in Christ,

Peter Weiderud

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