World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Fraternal greetings

07 October 2003

Letter to the churches and ecumenical bodies in Argentina, 7 October, 2003

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

May I take the opportunity of the visit to Argentina by our old friend and colleague
Charles Harper, who is attending a meeting of the Ecumenical Movement
for Human Rights, to send you a message of fraternal greetings. Let me repeat
the apostolic greeting "Grace and peace be with you" (1 Thess. 1:1) with which
I began my letter of support and solidarity to the churches of Argentina, at a time
when the country was going through a deep political, ethical and spiritual crisis.
Much has changed in Argentina in the last eighteen months. The courageous
witness of the churches, together with the determination of other groups and
movements in civil society, has led to the emergence of a new mindset and the
election of a new government. In my letter of January 2002 I said, "It will be necessary
to appeal to the sense of responsibility of the political community in order
to overcome corruption, impunity and the abuse of power and to take immediate,
concrete steps towards real national reconciliation based on justice. In the
present situation this can only be done by strengthening democracy and the respect
and defence of human rights, which are the expression of the care for life which
the Creator God has placed in our hands."

These words still apply, but we note with relief and gratitude that the new
government under President Nestor Kirchner has begun to implement the changes
of policy that the churches and other social groupings have been demanding.

This is clear in particular with regard to changes in the legislation relating to
the violations of human rights committed during the rule of the Military Junta
from 1976 to 1983. The laws on "full stop" and "due obedience", which included
an amnesty and impunity for those responsible for brutal acts of repression,
were yet a further violation of the dignity of the victims and their families and
an insult to all those in Argentina who are committed to justice and the rule of
law. The repeal of these laws by the Parliament of Argentina last August has
restored the essential confidence in the political and legal process and reaffirmed
its commitment to human rights which, today more than ever, requires the support
of the international community. Therefore I take this opportunity to congratulate
you and, through you, all the Christians and the people of Argentina
for this action which has restored the dignity of the Argentinean nation. In once
again expressing our solidarity with all those in the churches and in civil society
who have fought for the recognition and defence of human rights, we are delighted
to know that justice has been restored and that the people of Argentina can
now engage in a process of true national reconciliation.

May God continue to bless you in your ecumenical ministry.

With fraternal greetings,

Konrad Raiser
General Secretary