WCC chief calls for 'critical understanding' of religion on the global stage

By staff writers
June 9, 2013

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, has addressed a United Nations conference in Geneva.

At the gathering on 3 June 2013 Dr Tveit addressed 'the role of religion in the search for justice and peace'.

The conference at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, was called by UN Geneva director general Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in search of “a comprehensive framework” or new paradigm, for UN work with its partners in the areas of global economy, ecology, education, health, security, and governance.

Calling for “an open, proper, critical and constructive reflection on the role of religion in our work for justice and peace and in our local and global life together,” Dr Tveit urged the international community to grapple more deeply with religion.

“It must go beyond discussions about ‘misuse’ of religion,” he said. “It must also include a self-critical reflection on what our religions are teaching and representing today.”

Addressing the ambiguity of religion and religious traditions, Dr Tveit noted that religion “is often employed to legitimize injustice and violence.” But, he stated strongly, “[t]here is no authority given to anybody to do evil in the name of religion.”

The WCC general secretary went on to point out that according to their own claims religions had put themselves in a situation of "ultimate accountability" for their actions.

There was a corresponding vast potential of faith commitment for aiding the common good, he said.

“I believe, and I have seen, that religious faith and practice can make the most committed and powerful contributions to reconciliation and to economic justice,” Dr Tveit declared.

The world churches chief cited the ongoing work of the WCC with key units of the UN, particularly in collaborative projects with WHO on HIV, with ILO on the Decent Work initiative, and with UNHCR on migration and refugees.

Dr Tveit also stressed the continuing commitment of the World Council of Churches in the international arena.

He said: “Over six decades, the WCC has contributed in many ways to the emergence of a global civil society. This is where I see our calling today.”

* The full address can be read here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/18519


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