World Council of Churches Office of Communication|
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Call to churches: Resist economic globalization!
cf. WCC Press Release, PR-01-27, of 9 August 2001
Today, a vision of the unity of humankind and the whole inhabited earth is competing with a vision of economic globalization, said representatives from churches in 29 countries at an international consultation in Fiji organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC) in cooperation with the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC).
The 12-16 August consultation called on churches to be more prophetic in their opposition to economic globalization. It challenged the churches to search for viable alternatives to the current economic system that has produced increased human suffering and poverty, the exploitation of labour and widespread environmental devastation.
A presentation from the Pacific churches on what they called the "Island of Hope" was central to the meeting. "Island of Hope" is a metaphor for the wholeness of life, of which generosity, reciprocity and the sharing of communal resources are essential features - in stark contrast to the prevailing features of globalization. The Pacific churches presented real and viable alternatives to globalization that have sustained Pacific societies for generations.
Participants from other regions of the world were able to identify with this Pacific concept. African representatives spoke of an African renaissance and reconstruction process (ubuntu) that calls Africans to look to themselves, in solidarity with others, for solutions to globalization. Asians spoke of gatong (togetherness) in Indonesia, bayanihan (collective living) in the Philippines, panchasila in India and daedong yundae (great solidarity) in Korea.
Western European and North American participants talked about the importance of sharing and interdependence; Central and Eastern Europeans spoke of protecting the spiritual heritage of their countries, caring for the family as a basic unit of society and encouraging the values of sharing. The Latin American and Caribbean representatives referred to communal values shared by their Indigenous cultures which have created solidarity between the poor and unemployed.
The Pacific representatives contrasted Western economic patterns that focus on profits and economic growth with their own traditional economies, which are concerned with the holistic quality of people's lives. They described land, sea and people as being integral parts of one's identity, and called for a vision of solidarity in defence of creation.
"The specific role of the church is to provide insights into ethics and values of life. We must create places of sharing; spaces where God's people, with their diverse gifts, resources and experiences, can come to give and receive. A place where they begin a journey together," said Dr Agnes Abuom of Kenya, one of the presidents of the WCC. "That is what we began here in Fiji. A journey of affirming an alternative global family. Economic globalization has separated people and fragmented communities. The people of God are called to walk together," she said. "The Island of Hope concept we heard here can be the anchor for that journey."
The international meeting in Fiji was preceded by regional meetings in Budapest and Bangkok, one in the Pacific in May and a consultation at which international youth representatives met with their Pacific counterparts. The WCC is planning further international and regional meetings in Latin America, the Caribbean, North America and Africa. This international meeting was held in the Pacific so that the "Island of Hope" concept could help inform and be further developed at the later consultations.
This article from the Fiji meeting is accompanied by three interviews with participants. The interviews are available in English only. Those interested in receiving the interviews should contact the WCC Media Relations Office (see e-mail address below).
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.