World Council of Churches Office of Communication
Press Release
150 route de Ferney, P.O. Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
E-mail: media

16 November 1999


The general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), Dr Konrad Raiser, will be visiting the Czech Republic from 17 to 21 November. On Wednesday 17 November Raiser will attend celebrations in Prague castle to mark the tenth anniversary of the "velvet revolution". His programme also includes a short conversation with the Czech President, Václav Havel.

Ten years after the "velvet revolution" in the Czech Republic, the WCC general secretary’s visit is clearly set under the sign of reconciliation. Raiser has expressly requested that the programme should include a visit to the village of Lidice in central Bohemia, which was razed to the ground by the SS in 1942 in retaliation for the assassination attempt against the National Socialist Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich. More than 190 men were shot and over 300 women and children deported to concentration camps.

On Friday 19 November Raiser will also have a meeting with former dissidents. Czech dissidents have repeatedly complained that the WCC was too uncritical in its attitude during the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.

According to Raiser the important thing now is to overcome the heritage of the cold war and to strengthen ties with the Czech churches and church groups. During his five-day visit Raiser will meet representatives of all the WCC member churches in the Czech Republic as well as representatives of the Roman Catholic Church.

The WCC general secretary will be accompanied by his wife, Dr Elisabeth Raiser, and the WCC Europe Secretary, Alexander Belopopsky.

The programme is organised by the Ecumenical Council of Churches (ECC) in the Czech Republic, Donska 5/370, 10100 Prague, tel./fax: +420.

WCC member churches in the Czech Republic

  • Czechoslovak Hussite Church
  • Evangelical Church of the Czech Brethren
  • Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia
  • Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in the Czech Republic.

For more information contact:
Karin Achtelstetter, Media Relations Officer
tel.: (+41 22) 791 6153 (office);
e-mail: media
Top of page

1999 press releases

WCC homepage

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.