30 April 2009

Excerpts from the texts of the Ecumenical Assembly for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation

This evening - Friday - I'm at an event at the Augustinerkloster in Erfurt, where Martin Luther once trained as a Catholic monk, looking back at the final session of the Ecumenical Assembly, which concluded 20 years ago today with the 12 texts being given to representatives of the sponsoring churches. The then state secretary for church affairs, Kurt Löffler, travelled specially to Dresden (where the final session was taking place) to put a stop to what the state termed "caluminous" attacks on state policy. In a meeting with Dresden's Lutheran bishop he tried to impress on Johannes Hempel the need to maintain a balance in state-church relations. Unlike some previous situations where state representatives put pressure on bishops and church leaders, this time Bishop Hempel reported quite openly to the assembly what had taken place. The assembly listened in silence, and then the gathering's president, Christof Ziemer, said "Thank you, Brother Hempel, for your words, I suggest we now return to the agenda." The pressure from the state had the opposite effect of what was intended. Even some waverers who had thought they might vote against one of the texts now decided to vote in favour - and all 12 texts then received the necessary two-thirds majority.

There's no space here to translate all the texts - all 100 pages of them - but the Evangelical Church in Central Germany has provided a set of extracts for the unveiling of the light sculpture:

The spirit of God has brought us together. We have talked with many tongues but have finally spoken in one language. (Message of the Ecumenical Assembly - Foreword)

The autonomy of human beings, who have to take responsibility for their world and its future, has been revealed with all its serious consequences. Thoroughgoing processes of change and of learning lie ahead. (Section 1.1.1. Our perplexity facing the crisis of survival of our world)

We see the depths of the crisis in a turning away from God, expressed through the idolisation of transitory values and realities and in the captivity to such powers ...

Even we Christians allow countless people to be ruined by economic poverty and powerlessness as a consequence of our prosperity, and thereby separate ourselves from the God of the poor. ( God's call for repentance [Umkehr] reveals the depths of the crisis)

We have realised that justice, peace and the preservation of creation are three interlinked issues in the current world situation. (1.2.1 Shalom as a basic orientation)

It follows from the preferential option for the poor that our standard of living should not be advanced at the expense of solidarity with the poor (1.2.2 Turning to Shalom as a fruit of justice)

The criteria or genuine justice is for us the community of solidarity with the weakest member of our society ...
Endangered humanity as a whole needs huamn beings to find new ways of living together that will enable us to survive together. Towards this aim we need social and economic models that encapsulate greater justice and participation by citizens ...
Reconstruction (perestroika) is needed in the direction of greater democracy, for burocratism, insufficient control of power, the lack of transparency of many decisions and institutions prevent citizens' taking responsibility for themselves and working on their own initiative.
(1.2..2.3. Justice is also an internal issue in the GDR)

Our society needs citizens who can act for themselves, who can assume their rights and duties, their tasks and opportunities, who can think and say what they think, without niggling and not waiting until all hindrances on the way have been removed. (3.2 Exepriences and problems)

We ourselves often experience our churches not as reconciled communities, but as places of immobility where we anxiously shut ourselves away, without questioning claims of power. Being a church of peace means to become more open to reconciliation, to other human beings, and more capable of change; it means repentance in the discipleship of Christ. (7.1 Churches on the way ot becoming a church of peace)

Only a new way of seeing material riches will make it possible for us to renounce things when it is necessary for the sake of justice, peace and the preservation of creation (81. Hear to word of repentance)

The multiple global threats to creation demand a repentance to new values, needs and lifestyles in the highly developed industrial countries ... Prosperity and luxury in Europe is being achieved at the expense of the world both here and far away. Now with our action we have reached the very limits of what our environment can bear. the continual quantative economic growth now means the further destruction of nature, the endangering of the basis of life for future generations, the impoverishment of many nations and the stoking up of social conflicts at home and military conflicts over the resources of this world. (8.2 Recognising the situation)

We experience the gap between our desire for a fulfilledlife and our inability to set out on new paths. (8.2 Dare to change)


Jane said...

very moving - it really is brilliant that you are blogging about this

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