Letter to the churches in Brazil, 18 May, 2006

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

We are shocked by the news we have received from your country during the
last couple of days. The unprecedented violence unleashed in São Paulo by criminal
gangs has resulted in the death of more than a hundred people, including
members of law enforcement agencies. Valuable public properties have been wantonly
destroyed. As your people face these tragic developments, we wish to assure
you of our solidarity and our prayers.

As sounds of gunshots and violence resound, we hope that the call of the churches
and civil society for peace and an end to violence will prevail. It is pertinent
that churches are not only shocked by the actions of a criminal organization, but
have also taken note of the inadequacy of the legal system and the overcrowding
of prisons. Reforms have been difficult because of corruption, impunity and lack
of political will.

We pray that the witness of the churches of Brazil may give hope and meaning
to the people in these times of fear and terror. We lift up in our prayers those
families who have lost their near and dear ones.

As we send this letter, the first Executive Committee meeting of the World
Council of Churches after the 9th Assembly in Porto Alegre is taking place in
Geneva, Switzerland. The members of the Committee join us in offering their
heart-felt condolences, through you, to the victims of these ghastly events.
We in the World Council of Churches are concerned at the increase of incidences
of violence in your country and in the region. It is precisely for this reason
that the focus of the Decade to Overcome Violence for the year 2006 is Latin
America. We hope - together with the churches of the region - we can contribute
to overcoming this scourge of violence that is destroying our societies.

May God give you the strength of the faith and of hope to be witnesses to His
Love as you come together to promote a culture of peace and non-violence.

Your brothers in Christ,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, WCC General Secretary
Rev. Dr Walter Altmann, WCC Moderator