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Kobia - Unique Contribution of Ethiopia

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  • Rev Fr John Brian
    World Council of Churches - Update Contact: + 41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 media@wcc-coe.org For immediate release - 03/10/2005 KOBIA HIGHLIGHTS UNIQUE
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 3, 2005
      World Council of Churches - Update
      Contact: + 41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 media@... For
      immediate release - 03/10/2005


      "As custodians of an ancient spiritual heritage, Ethiopian
      Christianity has a unique contribution which is of central importance
      in Africa and to the ecumenical family world-wide," stated the
      general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Dr
      Samuel Kobia, during his first official visit to the Ethiopian
      Orthodox Tewahedo Church, 24-30 September 2005.

      Meeting at the start of the visit with H.H. Patriarch Abune Paulos,
      leader of the 38-million-member Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Kobia
      contrasted the "moral wealth" of the African continent with the "fear
      and poverty" which marks the lives of so many in Africa, whose people
      struggle with "HIV/AIDS, insecurity, corruption and conflict".

      "Ethiopia has a vocation to nurture a renewed commitment for peace
      and reconciliation in the troubled lands of the African continent,"
      Kobia added. "Jesus Christ came into the world to give abundant life.
      This signifies the intrinsic connection between our quest for visible
      unity of the church and engagement in a life-centred ministry.
      Churches must unite their voices and their actions if lasting peace
      and justice is to be attained".

      Patriarch Abune Paulos welcomed the WCC visit to Ethiopia, and
      confirmed his intention to attend the 9th Assembly, planned for Porto
      Alegre, Brazil in February 2006, where a significant Ethiopian
      Orthodox delegation is expected to participate.

      Accompanying the WCC delegation, Dr Agnes Abuom, WCC president from
      Africa, underlined that the visit to Ethiopia was an opportunity
      to "draw wisdom and strength" from the history and struggles of the
      church in the country, and to accompany the people of Ethiopia at
      a "critical time".

      > Averting violent confrontation

      The visit came at a time of heightened political tension in the
      country as government and opposition disputed the outcome of
      parliamentary elections earlier in the year.

      Meeting with Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi, Kobia expressed
      his confidence that political leaders on all sides will make every
      effort to safeguard the constitution and the peace and security of
      the people.

      "We sincerely appeal to the Ethiopian government to reach out to the
      opposition parties and civil society groups in Ethiopia and embrace
      the path of dialogue as the means to resolving the pending matters
      following the recent elections," the WCC general secretary stated.
      Kobia offered the support of the WCC to church efforts at negotiating
      a peaceful resolution to the political tensions between government
      and opposition.

      "The WCC is willing to offer every assistance and support to the
      government and the opposition to avert confrontation and instead put
      the interests of the people of this great nation first," Kobia stated.

      The general secretary called on religious communities in Ethiopia to
      mobilize efforts to foster dialogue. "Religious institutions and
      political leaders have a common responsibility to employ all options
      to alleviate tensions and avoid conflict in a country which is
      emerging from a period of such calamities," he emphasized.

      The WCC has been active in mediation efforts between conflicting
      parties in other African states, and has a long-standing history of
      initiative in conflict prevention and resolution.

      > Church social action

      The WCC delegation was earlier received by Rev. Iteffa Gobena and the
      leadership of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church - Mekane Yesus, which
      is also a member church of the WCC in the country.

      During the week-long visit, the delegation presented the mission and
      priorities of the WCC to a gathering of Ethiopian Orthodox hierarchs,
      and visited several social, educational and sustainable agriculture
      programmes carried out by the church.

      New initiatives in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention and anti-stigma
      education pioneered by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church were presented
      to the WCC group. The WCC continues to coordinate a number of
      international ecumenical social and humanitarian programmes in
      Ethiopia, one of the world's poorest countries, which is emerging
      from decades of political turmoil, famine and war.

      Included in the programme were meetings with other government
      officials and talks with the leadership of the African Union, based
      in Addis Ababa.

      Additional information about the WCC visit to Ethiopia is available
      in our September 21st press release:

      This material may be reprinted freely.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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