World Council of Churches Office of Communication|
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Security of all communities is focus of church delegation visit with president of Lebanon
A high-level delegation from the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches (WCC) has met with H.E. Emile Lahoud, president of Lebanon, and discussed the need to provide security to all communities in southern Lebanon following the withdrawal of Israeli forces.
The visit took place on 30 May during the meeting of a Joint Working Group between the Roman Catholic Church and the WCC being held in Lebanon. The delegation members included: H.H. Aram I, catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church (Cilicia), Antelias, Lebanon, and moderator of the WCC Central Committee; H.E. Edward Cardinal Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, general secretary of the WCC; Bishop Dr Walter Kasper, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; and Roman Catholic Bishop Mario Conti, Aberdeen, Scotland, and Bishop Dr Jonas Jonson, Church of Sweden, co-moderators of the Joint Working Group.
The delegation expressed to the president the joy of the Roman Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches over the restoration of Lebanon's territorial integrity as a result of the Israeli troop withdrawal from southern Lebanon. The delegation assured the president of the continued solidarity of the WCC and the Roman Catholic Church with the Lebanese people and of their readiness to assist the reconstruction and reintegration of the country in appropriate ways. It also expressed concern regarding the security of all communities in the liberated areas.
In response, President Lahoud noted that, according to the procedures set out in UN Resolution 425, Lebanon and its army cannot take full control of the area until the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon has verified that Israel has in fact fully withdrawn. However, the president assured the delegation that all communities in southern Lebanon were being protected.
H.H. Aram I also expressed the hope that "the spiritual leaders of all the communities in Lebanon would be able to manifest their commitment to work together for the reconstruction and unity of Lebanon". Konrad Raiser noted that, in his earlier meetings with Lebanese Christian and Muslim religious leaders during this visit, "all have pledged to work together" for reconciliation and peace-building in the country.
The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 337, in more than 100 countries in all continents from virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general secretary Konrad Raiser from the Evangelical Church in Germany.