WCC NEWS: Statement on the war in Lebanon and northern Israel
- World Council of Churches - News Release
Contact: +41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 media@... For immediate
release - 05/09/2006 02:26:34 PM
NEW MIDDLE EAST FORUM TO UNITE CHURCH EFFORTS FOR PEACE
In a major new initiative, the central committee of the World Council of
Churches (WCC) has endorsed proposals to establish a comprehensive
ecumenical advocacy initiative for peace in the Middle East, and has
reiterated its alarm at the dramatic humanitarian consequences and alleged
violations of international law during the recent war in Lebanon and
In a "statement on the war in Lebanon and northern Israel, and ecumenical
action for Middle East peace," central committee members approved the
creation of a Palestine/Israel Ecumenical Forum under the auspices of the
WCC, which would "catalyse and co-ordinate" new and existing church advocacy
for peace, aim at ending the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories
in accordance with UN resolutions, and would "demonstrate its commitment to
inter-religious action for peace and to justice that serves all peoples of
"Churches, other civil society groups and a number of governments are eager
to see a radical re-engagement by the international community in peaceful
and equitable resolutions of the conflict in Lebanon and related conflicts
in the Middle East," the statement said.
"May a united ecumenical community * in prayer and action * make a new and
substantial contribution to peace with justice in the Middle East."
The Forum initiative was proposed earlier in the meeting by the WCC general
secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia. The WCC leader also announced his intention
to personally visit churches in the region in the near future.
The statement was issued following the report to central committee of an
ecumenical delegation that visited Beirut and Jerusalem in early August, and
an address by Lebanese government minister Dr Tarek Mitri, which gave
evidence of the devastating consequences of the conflict.
Expressing its "shock and profound sorrow" at the suffering and loss of life
in both northern Israel and Lebanon, the central committee statement also
expressed its "alarm" at the "violations of international law on armed
conflict by the combatants in this war and by the international community's
failure to ensure the protection of civilians and the proportionate use of
The central committee called for a sustainable and unconditional cease-fire,
and lifting of the blockade of Lebanon.
The statement urges the United Nations to establish an international inquiry
to investigate violations of international humanitarian law during the
recent conflict, and insisted on the release or trial according to
international norms of all detainees held by parties to the conflict.
In other actions related to the Middle East region, the public issues
committee expressed concern at the failure of the government of Israel to
ratify the election of the head of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem,
Patriarch Theophilos III, thereby obstructing the church from carrying out
regular legal functions.
Full text of the statement on the war in Lebanon and Northern Israel, and
ecumenical action for Middle East peace will be available later on Tuesday,
5 September, on the WCC website:
The full texts of recent WCC statements on the Middle East are available in
the WCC on-line press room:
Other statements by churches and church-related groups appear on the Decade
to Overcome Violence website:
More information on the WCC Central Committee meeting is available on the
Additional information: Juan Michel, +41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363
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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 348 Protestant, Orthodox,
Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in
over 110 countries, and works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.
The WCC general secretary is Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, from the Methodist Church
in Kenya. Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.