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PASTORAL LETTER TO WCC MEMBER CHURCHES IN THE
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA
cf. WCC Press Update of 17 March 1999
The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Dr Konrad Raiser, on behalf of the WCC has expressed "profound emotion following the NATO-led bombing of Yugoslavia." In a pastoral letter addressed to the church leaders of the three WCC member churches in Yugoslavia, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Reformed Christian Church in Yugoslavia and the Slovak Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Yugoslavia, Raiser condemns "violence and intimidation in any form, as only a negotiated solution can bring a durable and just peace."
He also reassured Patriarch Pavle, Bishop Istvan Csete-Szemesi and Bishop Jan Valent that "the WCC remains available to respond to the requests and needs of its members, and will maintain its humanitarian assistance to all victims of the situation, regardless of their origin."
Pastoral letter of WCC General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser, to WCC member churches in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia:
Brothers in Christ,
I am writing to you on behalf of the World Council of Churches to express our profound emotion following the NATO-led bombing of Yugoslavia, and to express our solidarity with you at this critical time.
The attack signals a failure to reach a negotiated agreement, and a breakdown in human relations. War can only bring further destruction and human suffering to a region which has already experienced so much pain, and will open new wounds and enmities.
I have stated on previous occasions the position of WCC on the crisis, and have condemned violence and intimidation in any form, as only a negotiated solution can bring a durable and just peace. This conviction was most recently reiterated in a message to the Summit of Kosovo Religious Leaders in Vienna, 16-18 March 1999, in which the Serbian Orthodox Church was represented, a copy of which is attached.
During this Lenten season Christians remember Christ's passion and crucifixion. But we also together proclaim that in the midst of human suffering and weakness comes our greatest hope, that of His Resurrection, and the invitation to eternal life.
I would like to assure you of the thoughts and prayers of the member churches of our fellowship, and of the staff here in Geneva, during this critical time. The WCC remains available to respond to the requests and needs of its members, and will maintain its humanitarian assistance to all victims of the situation, regardless of their origin."
The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 336, 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.