“We all remember March 2020,” said Sauca. “The world went into lockdown as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe.”
Yet the WCC remains a vibrant fellowship of churches, he said. “Wars and conflicts have erupted in different parts of the world, bringing loss of lives, destruction, famine, dislocations of populations, refugees,” he said. “At every step, it has been my prayer that the WCC can be a space for dialogue, for listening and caring for one another, and for just peace and reconciliation.”
Yet, as followers of Christ, we were entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation, Sauca urged.
"It would be very easy to use the language of the politicians, but we are called to use the language of faith, of our faith.” he add. “It is easy to exclude, excommunicate, and demonize, but we are called as WCC to use a free and safe platform of encounter and dialogue, to meet and listen to one another even if and when we disagree.”
This has always been the way of the WCC, he said. “I believe in the power of dialogue in the process toward reconciliation,” he said. “Imposed peace is not peace; a lasting peace has to be a just peace.”
War cannot be just or holy, he said. “In this time, until the end of my responsibility as acting general secretary that you have entrusted to me, I will not stop speaking against any aggression, invasion, or war, I will continue being prophetic, but I will do my best to keep the WCC what it was meant to be and to keep the table of dialogue open,” he said.
Sauca also said that a visit to Syria is still pending but is a priority before the WCC 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe.
“Together with the moderator, we did succeed in meeting with the representatives of the churches in Syria who came for a consultation at the Bossey Ecumenical Institute in April,” he said. “We agreed that the WCC Syria programme continues with the full participation of the churches in Syria, listening to their concerns and expectations, planning, and working together.”
A visit to the Holy Land will also take place before the assembly, Sauca said. “Our restructured office in Jerusalem is working well, and we keep receiving many signs of hope as outcomes of the work and presence of our staff there,” he said. “Yet, there are still many challenges and hardships, and we have made great efforts to respond to them and increase our advocacy work.”
Nearly 90% of the WCC member churches will be present at the WCC 11th Assembly, Sauca said. “It will be a great celebration of faith, a reunion of the churches, and a meaningful sign to the world,” he said. “On our way to Karlsruhe, we have experienced many challenges, and no doubt, there are more to come.”
This is an assembly of resilience, Sauca reflected. “We continue planning and revising in response to all that is happening in the world and the life of the churches,” he said. “The assembly's focus on love, compassion, reconciliation, healing, and unity in the context of a global pandemic and war will mark this assembly, the assembly in Karlsruhe, in the history of the WCC. “
The WCC is at a turning point in history, Sauca concluded. “We need to stay together with strong bonds of love and commitment, our legacy for the period post-Karlsruhe being a strong and meaningful WCC.”