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17 November 2000

Asia and Pacific ecumenical leaders challenge churches to take prophetic stance against globalisation

cf. WCC Press Release, PR-00-33, of 10 November 2000 Members of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Asia and Pacific Regional Groups have highlighted the negative impact of globalisation in their regions, stating that most Asian and Pacific countries face an increasingly explosive social, economic and political situation, as globalisation brings new forms of exploitation, dependence and greater impoverishment of a larger number of people.

Meeting together in Shanghai and Nanjing, People's Republic of China, 1-16 November, the two groups witnessed the effects of a dramatic modernisation and industrialisation process in this part of China. For participants, the setting highlighted the negative social, economic, and political impact of globalisation in their countries, experienced especially in the unequal distribution of wealth, interreligious tensions and violence, cultural and environmental destruction and political instability.

In response to this challenge, the groups issued a joint communiqué challenging churches in the region to take up their prophetic role of denouncing disastrous policies as well as undertaking educational campaigns, peacebuilding initiatives, interreligious dialogue and action.

The main tasks of the regional groups are to identify critical issues facing churches in their context and to help set priorities for ecumenical work in their region for the next three years.

As specific programme priorities, members of the Pacific Ecumenical Regional Group identified the need for the church to revisit its role as servant church in Pacific communities. Tensions between international standards for human rights and cultural rights, particularly in relation to the rights of Indigenous People, poverty eradication and integral human development are also priority areas for regional ecumenical action.

The Asia Regional Group noted that ecumenical work in the region should address issues of sustainable development and the relationship of faith and economic life, capacity-building for church and ecumenical organisations, ecumenical formation and the development of a new generation of leaders, children, and religious activism.

Members of the regional groups include representatives of the Asia and Pacific regional ecumenical organisations, national councils of churches, non-governmental organisations, member churches and mission partners. The Pacific Ecumenical Regional Group also includes representatives of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Pacific who are part of the ecumenical organisations in the region. The joint meeting of the regional groups occurs every three years.

Click here for the full text of the joint communiqué.

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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.