World churches' body maintains concern for global hotspots

By staff writers
October 1, 2008

The executive committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has used the opportunity of its latest gathering in Switzerland to maintain its active concern with many of the world's trouble spot and most pressing humanitarian issues.

Though the managing body for the world's largest inter-Christian body has particular responsibilities to be discharged in the areas of finance, planning and the question of a new general secretary, it is also keen to be outward looking and engaged in steering 'the ecumenical ship.'

A statement on religious violence and intolerance in India was approved, expressing continued concern about the alarming trend of growing communal violence and religious intolerance in India, particularly in the State of Orissa.

The minority Christians in Orissa have recently experienced a series of attacks in the form of looting, destruction of churches and church-run institutions. Reports are that 50 thousand Christians have been displaced, some taking refuge in forests and living in relief camps.

The statement on India urged the government to meet its constitutional obligations and said the violence is “an assault on the Constitution of India.” It also urged the government to “take steps to prevent violence, and harassments against the Christian minorities in Orissa and other parts of the country.”

A further response to the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka caused by the 25-year civil war was also reviewed and approved by the executive committee. The statement calls on “all warring parties to adhere to the International Humanitarian Law, the UN’s Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and other humanitarian norms.”

It also expressed deep concern over the recent escalation of violence and condemned the killing of non-combatants and all forms of human rights violations on both sides.

An affirmation of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was also presented and approved. A minute on the 30th anniversary of the Alma Ata Declaration which called for “health for all” was approved.

Both documents called for the WCC and church to recommit themselves to the cause of human rights and need of health care for all.

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