SINCE THE ELECTION IN MID-JUNE of the Rev Dr Prof Jerry Pillay as new World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary, concerns have been raised, predominantly in Jewish media, about his position on Israel and the Jewish communities and their faith.
The WCC General Secretary-elect emphasised that under his leadership the WCC will continue to desire and uphold cordial relationships with the Jewish communities.
“I support the Jewish people preserving their identity and practicing their religious beliefs and values. I believe that all religions must be respected and people of all faiths – and no faith – must work together to create a world of justice and peace in which we express love, unity and reconciliation,” Pillay says. “This stance has been and continues to be that of the World Council of Churches, and it would never elect a leader who practiced or preached antisemitism in any way, shape or form. The WCC continues to promote and nurture justice and peace, and has consistently raised concerns about issues of justice in Israel and Palestine.”
Consequently, the WCC will continue to stand firmly behind United Nations (UN) resolutions on the occupied territories and speak out against all forms of injustice, regardless of where or who they come from.
“Our perspectives are always from the perspective of a Christian witness – a point of view in which human rights, justice and peace are cornerstones. We are a faith-based – not a political – organisation and part of a worldwide fellowship confessing the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour” ,Pillay said.
Pillay added that he stands behind the WCC policies on the Holy Land, most recently expressed in a public statement by the WCC central committee on 18 June that WCC reiterates a “constant call for an end to the occupation, and for equal human rights for all” in the Holy Land.
On 18 June, the WCC central committee expressed “deep solidarity with the member churches and Christians of the region in their life and work, keeping the Christian faith and witness in the Holy Land alive and vibrant, as well as with all people in the region.”
The governing body also urged “all member churches and ecumenical partners, members of Jewish and Muslim communities, and all people of good will, to support the member churches and Christian communities of the Holy Land as essential components of the diverse multi-religious and multicultural nature of society in the region, including the Christian presence in the region.”
The central committee welcomed the WCC’s continuing relationships with the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations and the World Jewish Congress, and the opportunities which they provide for dialogue on these issues.
The statement called on “the government and authorities of Israel to ensure equal human rights for all people living under their responsibility, and to ensure accountability for attacks and violations against Palestinians, against the holy places, churches, Christian communities, Muslims and other groups, and to ensure free access to places of worship and holy sites.”
The central committee also appealed “to all members of the international community and all WCC member churches and ecumenical partners to stand up for international law and to speak out against the looming evictions in Masafer Yatta and other threatened displacements of Palestinian communities in the occupied territories.”
The statement concluded by reiterating “the WCC’s constant call for an end to the occupation, and for equal human rights for all in the region.”
* Read WCC Central Committee Statement on Threats to a Just Peace in Israel and Palestine, and to the Christian Presence in the Holy Land here.
* Source: World Council of Churches