Churches chief to have voice at world economic summit

By staff writers
January 3, 2017

The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches will participate in the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos from 17-20 January 2017.

The Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit aims to press three main emphases as part of the theme of the annual meeting, 'Responsive and Responsible Leadership'. These are that:

    1. Leadership means putting first common interests for humankind and our only planet. Global leaders – religious as well as political – must put common interests for humankind first. To protect children, address climate change and prevent military conflicts we must raise above national or religious boundaries. We must use the Annual Meeting as an occasion for all of us to shape a clear perspective and clear plan of action on our common interests”, says Tveit.

      2. Mutual accountability and trust are cornerstones: “As responsible leaders we all need the wisdom of others, and our own positions need to be challenged. We must respond to world challenges by accepting our mutual accountability to one another as human beings, living together in one world. As churches we also believe that this responsibility to one another is embedded in our accountability to the one God and creator of all. Readiness for critical and constructive dialogue including willingness to self-critique is essential to all kinds of responsible leadership, also religious leadership. Mutual accountability and trust are essential cornerstones, whether we believe in a religion or not”, says Tveit.

        3. Religious leaders need to stand up to politicians: “Religious leaders should give their own value-based contribution for the common good, and particularly speak for the less privileged and for the victims of actions stemming from irresponsible leadership. Religious leaders must not let themselves be co-opted and used by politicians, but should not isolate themselves into a religious realm only. Nobody can solve the challenges of a people, a nation or the world alone. We should all be on guard if and when politicians use religious affiliation or language as a means in politics. Unless we bring back more accountability into world affairs, we risk making essential matters worse for all”, says Tveit.

          Dr Tveit assumed the post of General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in August 2009.  He has become one of the world’s respected religious leaders on matters of justice and peace and inter-religious understanding and initiatives.

          In 2012, Tveit received the Friends of the Armenians Award for his advocacy worldwide. In 2013, King Abdullah II of Jordan presented him with the Al-Hussein Decoration for Distinguished Service in the field of inter-religious dialogue and cooperation in pursuit of peace among peoples. In 2015, Hanshin University in Seoul, Republic of Korea, awarded him an honorary doctorate in recognition of his vision of unity, justice and peace.

          Dr Tveit also serves as a co-president of Religions for Peace. In this position he has established close relationships with religious leaders, particularly with church leaders of all kinds, as well as with leaders of other religious communities.

          The WCC General Secretary has also accepted an invitation from the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children to serve on the organisation’s board of directors. He took part in the first meeting in December 2016.

          * The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, today the WCC brings together 350 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches, representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.

          * World Council of Churches http://www.oikoumene.org/en

          [Ekk/3]

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