Gorbachev addresses World Council of Churches on Chernobyl disaster

By staff writers
April 27, 2006

Gorbachev addresses World Council of Churches on Chernobyl disaster

-27/04/06

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, has told an interfaith gathering in Genevaís Ecumenical Centre that his life has never been the same since the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power station explosion.

Speaking at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches on the 20 year anniversary of the disaster, the world's worst nuclear incident, Mr Gorbachev said that it was ìa shocking reminder of the reality of nuclear threats and it has become a symbol of modern technological risks.î

Soviet president at the time of the Chernobyl explosion, Gorbachev said he had been awakened by a phone call at 5 AM informing him of the accident at the nuclear power station in Ukraine, at that time part of the Soviet Union.

He publicly backed the work of Green Cross International and other agencies seeking to deal with the impact of environmental disasters.

Representatives of Geneva's Jewish, Islamic and Christian communities participated in the interfaith ceremony and discussion.

After a welcome speech by the WCC general secretary, the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, Russian Orthodox Church representative Fr Mikhail Gundaev commented on his Church's decision to make St Thomas Sunday (30 April) a special day of prayer for the victims and survivors of Chernobyl in all Russian Orthodox churches.

Ceremonies and prayers have been organized by churches in several other European countries and cities ñ including Kiev, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Budapest, Exeter and Bern.

Another panel member, Green Cross International communications director Mrs Nadia Sikorsky, presented her organization's Chernobyl-related activities.

Green Cross International is chaired by Gorbachev. It is a Geneva-based non-governmental organization (NGO) concerned with environmental problems and runs social, medical and educational programmes among populations still living in the contaminated areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

The anniversary of Chernobyl comes as a number of governments, including the UK, are considering reinvesting in nuclear technology for energy purposes. There is also an international row over the nascent nuclear programme in Iran.

Critics, including those from faith communities, say that nuclear power is expensive and still poses a massive security and safety risk. But the rising price of oil and gas, together with underinvestment in renewable alternatives, is strengthening the nuclear industryís lobby.

The World Council of Churches (WCC), which hosted the interfaith ceremony to remember Chernobyl, is the broadest and most inclusive among the various organized expressions of the modern ecumenical movement, whose goal is global Christian cooperation and unity.

The WCC brings together more than 340 churches, denominations and church fellowships in over 100 countries and territories throughout the world, representing some 550 million Christians and including most of the world's Orthodox churches, scores of denominations from such historic traditions of the Protestant Reformation as Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed, as well as many united and independent churches.

While the bulk of the WCC's founding churches were European and North American, today most are in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific.

Gorbachev addresses World Council of Churches on Chernobyl disaster

-27/04/06

Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, has told an interfaith gathering in Genevaís Ecumenical Centre that his life has never been the same since the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power station explosion.

Speaking at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches on the 20 year anniversary of the disaster, the world's worst nuclear incident, Mr Gorbachev said that it was ìa shocking reminder of the reality of nuclear threats and it has become a symbol of modern technological risks.î

Soviet president at the time of the Chernobyl explosion, Gorbachev said he had been awakened by a phone call at 5 AM informing him of the accident at the nuclear power station in Ukraine, at that time part of the Soviet Union.

He publicly backed the work of Green Cross International and other agencies seeking to deal with the impact of environmental disasters.

Representatives of Geneva's Jewish, Islamic and Christian communities participated in the interfaith ceremony and discussion.

After a welcome speech by the WCC general secretary, the Rev Dr Samuel Kobia, Russian Orthodox Church representative Fr Mikhail Gundaev commented on his Church's decision to make St Thomas Sunday (30 April) a special day of prayer for the victims and survivors of Chernobyl in all Russian Orthodox churches.

Ceremonies and prayers have been organized by churches in several other European countries and cities ñ including Kiev, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Budapest, Exeter and Bern.

Another panel member, Green Cross International communications director Mrs Nadia Sikorsky, presented her organization's Chernobyl-related activities.

Green Cross International is chaired by Gorbachev. It is a Geneva-based non-governmental organization (NGO) concerned with environmental problems and runs social, medical and educational programmes among populations still living in the contaminated areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

The anniversary of Chernobyl comes as a number of governments, including the UK, are considering reinvesting in nuclear technology for energy purposes. There is also an international row over the nascent nuclear programme in Iran.

Critics, including those from faith communities, say that nuclear power is expensive and still poses a massive security and safety risk. But the rising price of oil and gas, together with underinvestment in renewable alternatives, is strengthening the nuclear industryís lobby.

The World Council of Churches (WCC), which hosted the interfaith ceremony to remember Chernobyl, is the broadest and most inclusive among the various organized expressions of the modern ecumenical movement, whose goal is global Christian cooperation and unity.

The WCC brings together more than 340 churches, denominations and church fellowships in over 100 countries and territories throughout the world, representing some 550 million Christians and including most of the world's Orthodox churches, scores of denominations from such historic traditions of the Protestant Reformation as Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed, as well as many united and independent churches.

While the bulk of the WCC's founding churches were European and North American, today most are in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific.

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