The World Council of Churches (WCC) central committee meeting opens on 15th February and will continue until February 22. The meeting aims to prepare for the ninth assembly of the Council, which meets in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in February 2006, with the theme “God, in your grace, transform the world”.
The WCC central committee this year gathers under the overall theme of “Healing and reconciliation”. On 15th February, the Moderator, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church, called on the worldwide church to rediscover healing as a comprehensive ministry that transforms, empowers and reconciles.
Citing the tragedy that happened ninety years ago when the Ottoman empire began to kill the Armenians within its borders, a million and a half Armenian lives were claimed, Catholicos Aram urged the church worldwide to take responsibility for recovering the history.
“The past haunts the victims,” Aram I said, “We cannot free ourselves from the past unless that past is duly recognised.”
“God’s mission calls for a healing church in the midst of a broken, fragmented and alienated world,” he continued.
According to Aram I, this reconciliation is something more than political issue, “It is a change of consciousness, transformation of attitudes, healing of memories.”
As churches reconcile with God, it also means reconciling with one another and the whole creation, building bridges across religious, social and cultural divides.
In addition, he emphasised the importance of confession in the process of reconciliation. “Guilt must be admitted; truth must be told”, Aram I said. Recognition and confession open the way to forgiveness.
Through recognition, confession and forgiveness, both victim and perpetrator can “liberate themselves from the bitterness of the past” and, by looking for “restorative and transformative justice”, commit themselves to “life together in peace with justice”.
In conclusion, six tasks were outlined as continuing priorities for the ecumenical movement and the WCC in the years ahead:
– exploring what it means to “be church”;
– caring for life in all its forms;
– addressing contemporary ethical issues;
– viewing ecology as a moral, theological, and spiritual question;
– promoting reconciliation as a key element in mission; and
– challenging the dominant concepts and practices of power.
“God’s healing power transforms the ambiguity of human power, moving the world from power that is absolute, centralised, violent and self-sufficient to power that is vulnerable, accountable, non-violent and shared,” said Arma I.