Gathered at Château de Bossey.

Gathered at Château de Bossey.

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit hosted a lunch on 12 December in gratitude to the services rendered by the United Nations special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura at the Château de Bossey with ambassador Heidi Grau, Head of the human security division at the Swiss FDFA, and the UN and WCC teams on Syria.

De Mistura will step down at the end of December after more than four years in the key post. The Italian Swedish diplomat became the UN's third Syria envoy in July 2014.

"Now it is important to secure the peace," the envoy said and emphasized one need for all to contribute to the healing of the country.

Tveit said, in his speech to de Mistura, “We will remember you for your strong commitment to just peace and mutual accountability in Syria. We have been working with you as a great leader, peacemaker and diplomat." De Mistura has been serving for more than 40 years with humility and purpose of the task in the most vulnerable places in the world.

After more than seven years of war, the conflict  in Syria is not over. Casualties are counted in the hundreds of thousands and the suffering among survivors in war-torn areas is unimaginable. Millions of Syrians have become displaced, either within their own country, or as refugees in neighboring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, as well as in Europe and elsewhere.

“The World Council of Churches will continue its efforts and initiatives to promote peace in Syria,” affirmed Tveit, “through support to member churches, inter-religious dialogue and cooperation and local capacity building.”

De Mistura said the WCC and faith leaders and actors in Syria and the region will have an important role to play in healing wounded memories and in bringing all Syrians together in a common narrative, for the preservation of Syria's rich diversity and the restoration of social cohesion.

Tveit responded: “In this, the WCC will ask that the ecumenical family to accompany them together with the whole people of Syria on this path, in working for a just peace and for human dignity. We hope and pray that an end to the suffering of the Syrian people will be delayed no longer.”

Tveit underlined that the previous WCC Central Committee statement in June 2018 also underscores the need for a new social pact throughout the Middle East region – a common narrative that is developed and shared by all communities of the countries of the region based on an inclusive understanding of citizenship and human rights, constitutionally guaranteed, and under which all churches and faith communities, with their diverse ethnic, religious and cultural identities, can live and prosper in the love and grace given to all by God.

WCC calls for release of archbishops of Aleppo, 27 June 2018

WCC statement Christian Presence in the Middle East, June 2018