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Indigenous peoples and the pandemic in the land of inequalities

476 million indigenous people live around the world, of which 11.5% live in our Latin American region. In these years that we are going from the COVID 19 pandemic in our territories (indigenous or tribal at the Latin American level), the presence of many extractive companies, mainly uranium and lithium, has increased, land traffickers and among other monoculture companies with fires for the cultivation of oil palm, logging, putting vulnerable peoples at greater risk than what is already experienced.

Less COVID-19 cases, more “hope cases”

The Uruguayan Council of Christian Churches (CICU, by its Spanish acronym), the only ecumenical organization in the country, hosted an online gathering during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It took place last 26 May at 7:30pm (local time) via Zoom. I had the immense joy of participating as a Catholic communicator, currently serving as correspondent for SIGNIS ALC (Latin-American and Caribbean Association of Catholic Communication) and as vice president of SIGNIS Uruguay (the Uruguayan Association of Catholic Communicators).

Week of Prayer brings fruits of the Spirit despite COVID-19

Prayer is a powerful way to be united as Christians from all over the world. Every year my church community in Cuba joins the celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with daily devotions and a special worship service, usually on Sundays. Being connected in the same prayerful spirit around a common text that turns into so many testimonies of faith is truly a gift of the Spirit and an ecumenical commitment.

The imperative to go back to the ecumenical basics

Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the World Council of Churches (WCC) central committee, was asked about the WCC executive committee meeting held on 17-23 May 2021. The WCC executive committee set a tone of hope for the future while, at the same time, addressing multiple global crises with statements, pastoral messages, and calls for prayer.

The transition to online programming and prayers during COVID-19 has challenged the WCC, and the rest of the world, Abuom found, and said is a heavy burden” on all in the ecumenical family as the WCC prepares for its 11th Assembly in Karlsruhe, Germany next year.

Still together as one

“Abide in my love… you shall bear much fruit” (John 15:1-17) is an especially relevant theme for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In many places of the world, COVID-19 remains a pandemic, creating emergency measures, separating people from one another. Isolation, while deemed scientifically necessary, leaves scars on the hearts of those who wish to encounter the other, particularly within the context of the church. How can we enjoy fellowship while we are apart?

The pandemic does not stop the pilgrimage— it deepens the accompaniment

As part of a series of material prepared for a special edition of the WCC newsletter focusing on the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace, WCC news interviewed Rev. Prof. Dr Fernando Enns, from the Association of Mennonite Congregations in Germany, and Jennifer Martin, Education in Mission secretary for the Caribbean and North America Council for Mission, United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Enns and Martin share the moderation of the Reference Group of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace since its creation in 2013.

Sailing on a wave of prayer

Do we discern the work of the Holy Spirit in the unsettling times that the world experiences these days? I’d like to share a little example:

Our brainstorm for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2021 began three years before. The liturgy and prayers—so carefully prepared with help of the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity—presented in the booklet of 2021, were being read and appreciated by many already in the process of preparation!

In Colombia, “what is happening is terribly painful”

Rev. Gloria Ulloa, World Council of Churches president for Latin America and the Caribbean, is in Cali, Colombia, with a delegation of DiPaz, the country’s main ecumenical peacebuilding platform. The group is having direct grassroots contact with the conflicts currently taking place. Ulloa and others hope to bring to light testimonies of peoples and communities usually forgotten by the big media.

Below is Ulloa's latest description on the ground.

Arctic communities to WCC pilgrims: “We need your voice”

Lorraine Netro, who was raised in the Gwichin First Nation of Old Crow, Yukon (Canada), is part of an indigenous community—but shes also a global citizen.

Todays Arctic peoples are important members of global society,” Netro said. The survival of Arctic cultures and communities remains tied to the wildlife and landscape of the Arctic Refuge.”

Economic and fiscal challenges from COVID-19

The aftermath of the pandemic will present enormous long-term political, social and economic challenges. After the pandemic has subsided, there will be an enormous financial cost to be calculated – especially in terms of increased government debt for almost every country. In particular, there is a very real risk that the UN Sustainable Development Goals will not be met. As Christians, we cannot use COVID-19 as an excuse for inaction and the preferential option for the poor must be recognised.

Martha and Maria Orthodox Christian Sisterhoods. Princess Alice of Greece and her unknown sisterhood

With the death and burial of Prince Philipp, Duke of Edinburgh, and husband of Queen Elizabeth II, of the English and the British Commonwealth throne, a kind of Orthodox Christian witness came into the fore, in the form of Christian Brotherhoods, quite unknown to Greece and the entire Orthodox world. Very few till now in Greece had known that there is also another kind of Orthodox Christian witness, that of the socially oriented and pastorally significant Brother- (and Sister-) hoods, especially in periods of crisis.