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English [20050131] [beszámoló, sajtóközlemény] Olvasási ido: negyedóra Towards an Ethics of Solidarity. Religion, Conflict and Peace Discussed at WSF (Béke, Emberi jogok, Harmadik világ, Igazságosság, Kereszténység, Mozgalom, Nők egyenrangúsága, Politika)
Issued by World Council of Churches.
A szolidaritás etikája felé. Vallás, konfliktus és béke megbeszélés a Világ Szociális Fórumon. / Towards an Ethics of Solidarity. Religion, Conflict and Peace Discussed at WSF

World Council of Churches - Feature
Contact: + 41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 [email protected]


by Henrike Müller (*)

"When some two years ago in the West Indian State of Gujarat a train compartment was bombed and 58 people were killed by unknown offenders, local and regional newspapers published the headline '58 people killed by Muslim extremists'. As a reaction, more than 2000 innocent Muslim Indians were chased, raped and killed in a most cruel way in the week after the bombing," Siddharta, leader of Fireflies, an interreligious Ashram in Bangalore, India, recounts. "What is the magma within religion that is capable of such a brutal eruption?" he asks.

Siddharta is speaking at a panel discussion on "International ethics, religious conflicts and peace" at the fifth World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Organized by a global ecumenical coalition that includes the World Council of Churches (WCC), the panel explores the role of religion in conflicts, and seeks to identify resources within religion for overcoming violence.

"Religious conflicts are a reality that societies all over the world have to live with," says another panel speaker, Rifat Kassis from Palestine. The international coordinator of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) points to areas like Northern Ireland, the Sudan, Sri Lanka, and emphasizes: "What is happening in the Middle East is not unique."

As for Brazil, a country proud of its cultural mix and the peaceful coexistence of people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, it is currently witnessing a denial of afro-Brazilian religions and traditions and a growing wave of discrimination and violence against its black population. "Statistics show serious discrimination against black people whose ancestors entered this country as slaves," reports Ordep Serra, a Brazilian minister of the afro-Brazilian Candomblé religion. "Black people belong only to the lower classes. They are victims of violence."

> Relational ethics and a relational spirituality

Religion has sometimes justified or even fuelled conflicts outside the purely "religious" sphere, also involving political and economic issues and powers. At the same time, a wide range of believers all over the world are becoming increasingly aware of the relationships between religion, violence and power and have developed ecumenical and interreligious initiatives for peace.

Further examining the reasons for violence in the name of religion - the magma - professor of theology Ulrich Duchrow from Germany links newly erupting religious aggression to the presence of a new economic paradigm. "The market is driven by the neoliberal paradigm whose psychological basis creates aggression and competition rather than solidarity. Within this climate, the other is seen as a permanent threat."

For Duchrow, individualism is a key issue. "We won't survive with an ethics that is considered as 'individual private value judgement'," says Duchrow, quoting sociologist Max Weber. "If we consider ethics as a condition for life, we mustn't see each other as atomic individuals or as rivals but as closely connected beings. A future ethics must be relational, it must be an ethics of solidarity."

Not only ethics, but also spirituality require openness towards the other. Facing a world that today is ruled by a single empire and its allies, "One voice consisting of churches and social movements is required to confront the fundamentalism of the market," Duchrow says.

From his interreligious perspective, Siddharta emphasizes that a relational spirituality would also "overcome the boundaries of different faiths". And Palestinian Christian Kassis admits that: "Even if we focus on Christianity, we should not think that our religion is the only peaceful one."

How would improved mutual understanding contribute towards a culture of peace? From his particular context, Kassis stresses that it would prevent fear of the unknown. The unknown other becomes the feared enemy. "If you don't know any Arabs, you could get the idea from certain media that every Arab is a terrorist," he explains. In this context, the EAPPI is a visible "sign of hope" in conflict areas. Accompaniers "undertake advocacy efforts, carry out non-violent actions and, by their mere presence, promote peace and show a love that knows no boundaries."

The sharing of initiatives from different contexts enables people to realize the richness of religious diversity, fostering a culture of peace and struggling to overcome violence. "There will be no peace and no justice if the present situation does not make you angry. The anger about things going wrong in the world is the motive for change," Ordep Serra concludes.
[721 words]

(*) Henrike Müller is a curate from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover currently working in the office for Media Relations of the World Council of Churches in Geneva.

- - -

"Affirming life in dignity: enhancing justice and rights in a globalized world" is the overall theme for the World Council of Churches' (WCC) participation in the 5th World Social Forum taking place 26-31 January in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The WCC delegation is participating with others in the framework of a global ecumenical coalition, including the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), and other world-wide ecumenical organizations. The fifth edition of the annual World Social Forum is an open meeting place for non-governmental organizations, social movements and civil society groups to debate alternative ways to build a world in solidarity and justice.

More information about the WCC participation in the 5th World Social Forum is available on our website at:

Free high-resolution photos on the ecumenical presence at the forum are available on our website:

Media contacts in Porto Alegre:
Susanne Buchweit [email protected] +55 (0) 51 3342 2627 +55 (0) 51 3225 9066
Henrike Mueller [email protected] +55 (0) 51 8114 7833

Additional information: Juan Michel,+41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 [email protected]

The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 342, in more than 120 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 Samuel Kobia from the Methodist church in Kenya.

Földrajzi hely (amirol szól): Dél-Amerika, India

Szerző: Duchrow, Ulrich

Csoport, mozgalom, irányzat (ahonnan származik): WCC DOV

Célcsoport: mozgalmi önkénteseknek, vallásos embereknek