24.03.11 16:26 Age: 347 days

“Peace on Earth – Peace with the Earth” is focus for WCC journal


As churches worldwide prepare for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation (IEPC) in Jamaica in May, the latest edition of the World Council of Churches (WCC) quarterly journal, Ecumenical Review, will focus on challenges of peacemaking in places as varied as the Middle East and Africa.


"We are at a decisive turning point," writes Margot Kässmann, a former bishop of the Evangelical Church in Germany, in her article that opens the issue. "The ecumenical movement has to take a clear stance for human rights, in the name of peace. Christian women and men in the churches throughout the world have to stand up clearly for their conviction that there is no road to peace by way of war, but that on the contrary peace is the road that will bring us together, even where we are divided by cultural and national differences."


Taking as her starting point the controversy generated by a widely reported sermon in which she questioned German military action in Afghanistan, Kässmann urges the decisive replacement of the “just war” theory by actions designed to promote “just peace”.


Other authors in the journal issue, which is titled "Peace on Earth – Peace with the Earth",

include, Bishop Munib A. Younan, president of the Lutheran World Federation and head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land; Jürgen Moltmann; Esther Mombo, a member of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians; and Orthodox theologian Philip LeMasters.


Younan argues that the three monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have a shared responsibility for finding a “just peace” in the Middle East that is “just” to two peoples – Israeli and Palestinians – and to the adherents of three religions – Christians, Jews and Muslims.


Mombo underlines that it is often women who are both victims of war and excluded by patriarchal structures from efforts to resolve conflicts.


“Issues of war and peace have been intimately linked to the history of the World Council of Churches,” guest editor Stephen Brown writes in the introduction. In recent years, Brown writes “there has been a realization that the issues of justice and peace belong together. To talk of 'peace on earth' does not mean tackling only issues of international conflict between nations, but also the issues of justice between and within nations that prevent and threaten genuine peace.”


The peace convocation is the culmination of WCC programme “Decade to Overcome Violence 2001-2010". The Decade to Overcome Violence was agreed to at the WCC’s 8th Assembly in Harare in 1998, following a proposal by Mennonite theologian Fernando Enns. In his article in the Ecumenical Review, Enns elaborates on an “ecumenical theology of just peace”.


While Philip LeMasters notes that the just war theory does not align well with the experience and teaching of Orthodox Christianity, Tobias Winright concentrates on the ethical dilemmas related to the concept of the “responsibility to protect” that emerged from discussions on humanitarian intervention over the past decade.


This issue of The Ecumenical Review also explores the growing realization that peace between peoples needs to be matched by a “peace with the earth” that includes the whole of creation. 


In his article, Guillermo Kerber, WCC programme executive for climate change, recognizes emerging perspectives, such as those underlying the IEPC, that open the way to interfaith cooperation through encouraging people from various religions to work at both the personal and the collective levels to contribute to peace with the earth.


In another article Jürgen Moltmann argues for the need to shift our perspective from a world economy to an earth economy, and for world religions to become earth religions, in which the anthropocentrism of the modern world is overcome and humanity is viewed as an integrated element in planet Earth as a whole.


Full list of the authors and articles


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More information on the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation