The latest issue of The Ecumenical Review, the quarterly journal of the World Council of Churches (WCC), focuses on “Global Manifestations of Racism Today,” with a set of articles that originated at a theological symposium organized in Japan in 2019 as part of the WCC’s Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace.
“There is no context without racism; and there is no society that exists that has overcome the sin of racism,” Prof. Dr Fernando Enns, the co‐moderator of the reference group for the Pilgrimage and its theological study group, writes in an introduction to the articles.
The issue of racism has been on the agenda of the ecumenical movement for many years, Enns notes, notably in the WCC's Programme to Combat Racism (PCR), which focused largely though not exclusively on Southern Africa and was one of the most contested activities in the life of the WCC.
However, he continues, “In the light of today's experiences of racism, I ask myself whether the debate and the schisms about this question of potential political commitment was simply covering up the underlying racism within churches far away from Southern Africa.”
Articles in Ecumenical Review deal with the history of racism in experiences of slavery, and the need for global remembrance of the trauma inflicted by racism and white supremacy; the re-examination of missionary activities and their links with racism; experiences of racism in Brazil, in “post-Catholic” Italy, and in the United Kingdom after the “Brexit” vote; white privilege and Empire; racism as systemic evil and its intersection with gender injustice and economic and ecological violence; the emancipatory potential of Dalit identity; and the need for an African theology able to challenge stubborn and institutionalizing racism.
“We have become aware that we need to revisit all our histories, especially our mission stories,” writes Enns, “and our theologies: from how to read the Bible to reformulating our dogmatics and systematic theology, to detoxify them from a racist past and present, if we are ever to call our witness to the gospel of justice and peace ‘prophetic.’”
Contents of the latest issue (all articles may be freely downloaded)