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Pastoral letter to WCC member churches in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

25 March 1999

Letter to leaders of the three WCC member churches in Yugoslavia, 25 March 1999.

         H.H. Patriarch Pavle                    Bishop Istvàn Csete-Szemesi
         Serbian Orthodox Church            Reformed Christian Church in Yugoslavia
         Bishop Ján Valent
         Slovak Evangelical Church
         of the Augsburg Confession in Yugoslavia

Your Holiness, Brothers in Christ,

I am writing to you on behalf of the World Council of Churches to express our profound emotion following the NATO-led bombing of Yugoslavia, and to express our solidarity with you at this critical time.

The attack signals a failure to reach a negotiated agreement, and a breakdown in human relations. War can only bring further destruction and human suffering to a region which has already experienced so much pain, and will open new wounds and enmities.

I have stated on previous occasions the position of the WCC on the crisis, and have condemned violence and intimidation in any form, as only a negotiated solution can bring a durable and just peace. This conviction was most recently reiterated in a message to the Summit of Kosovo Religious Leaders in Vienna, 16-18 March 1999, in which the Serbian Orthodox Church was represented, a copy of which is attached.

During this Lenten season Christians remember Christ's passion and crucifixion. But we also together proclaim that in the midst of human suffering and weakness comes our greatest hope, that of His Resurrection, and the invitation to eternal life.

I would like to assure you of the thoughts and prayers of the member churches of our fellowship, and of the staff here in Geneva, during this critical time. The WCC remains available to respond to the requests and needs of its members, and will maintain its humanitarian assistance to all victims of the situation, regardless of their origin.

                                                                                                                                       Konrad Raiser
                                                                                                                                       General Secretary