to News Releases ]
PRESS RELEASE NO.
LWF President: Peace between World Religions a
Priority for Christians
HIV/AIDS, Major Global Challenges for World Community
WINNIPEG, Canada, 22 July 2003 – Peace between the world’s
religions and a common front against terrorism are among the top
challenges facing Christians in the 21st century, the president of
the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Bishop emeritus Dr Christian
Krause, said here today in his address to the LWF Tenth Assembly.
Krause was speaking to some 800 participants, including some 380
delegates from member churches, in the first plenary session of the
July 21-31 Assembly.
It is no longer enough that states commit themselves to ending their
conflicts by peaceful means, the LWF’s chief officer said. They
need to form global alliances “in order to combat terrorism
together and to guarantee their citizens civilized life in
society.” The fight against terrorism cannot be separated from the
struggle for justice and human dignity, LWF’s chief officer said.
Krause expressed concern that the United States, the only remaining
world superpower, is now militarily so superior that it does not
need to fear any military opponent in the world. “It has resolved
to use war as a political means when that serves its own
interests,” he said. He noted that the war against Iraq was waged
in spite of the United Nations' own opposition and the anti-war
demonstrations by millions of people worldwide. International law
cannot safeguard peace if the USA do not respect this international
law and prefer to replace it by the right of the mighty one,” he
Islam or other religions should not be equated with terrorism, Krause
warned. While fundamentalism attracts very few supporters, the
phenomenon is also present among Christians and among Jews. Some 1.2
billion people in the world are Muslims and only a very small number
of them sympathize with terrorism, he said. The fight against
terrorism must include as many states worldwide as possible,
especially those with majority Muslim populations. “But it must
never become a clash of civilizations or even of religions.” What
is imperative for the 21st century is not a crusade against Islam,
said Krause, but peace between the religions and their common
struggle against terrorism and its contempt for human beings.
The aim is to find common ground between the two world faiths, as
with similar efforts in ecumenical dialogues between Christians. The
concept of “reconciled diversity,” developed for relations
between churches, may also be a useful goal for relations between
Christians and Muslims.
Poverty and the HIV/AIDS pandemic are two other top challenges
facing the world community, Krause said. He pointed out that the
call for communio, which has been discussed with growing intensity
in recent years, is not primarily a call for humanitarian aid in
view of poverty and HIV/AIDS, much as that is also important, but a
call to a worldwide community of trust and hope in discipleship of
Jesus Christ. “Are we ready for this – the rich with the poor?"
Krause asked the Assembly participants.
Krause declared the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of
Justification to be the most significant theological achievement
since the previous LWF Assembly held in 1997. The landmark
declaration was signed by representatives of the LWF and Roman
Catholic Church on 31 October 1999.
The number of member churches has nearly tripled to 136 since the
LWF was founded in 1947, Krause noted. The expansion of the
Federation mainly involved churches in the South becoming members.
While the churches in the North are faced with shrinking
memberships, churches in the South are growing significantly, mainly
among charismatic, spirit-filled congregations and communities.
According to the LWF president, the future of Christianity will
mainly depend on whether it is possible to gather together the
historical confessional churches and the charismatic congregations
He said there is need for new ecumenical models in order to meet one
another also across internal barriers, and deal constructively with
the existing controversies and be able to celebrate worship
Krause expressed his deep sense of gratitude “for the gift of
communion in Christ which transcends all borders and divisions.”
He paid tribute to the hospitality of the many people who have
received him together with his wife Gertrud during visits to member
churches of the global Lutheran communion. “I then had the
strength to persevere even when the strain was great. That gave me
the resolve to stand up for our cause also before the governments
and the powerful of this world,” he noted.
He thanked the Assembly host the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
Canada and its National Bishop Raymond Schultz, the LWF Geneva staff
and the many other people who prepared the Assembly.
Krause was elected LWF President at the 1997 Ninth Assembly in
Hong Kong China.
Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is taking place
21-31 July 2003 in Winnipeg, Canada, under the theme "For the
Healing of the World." It is being hosted by the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).
There are around 820 men, women and youth participants in the Tenth
Assembly including 380 delegates from the
133 churches with full membership and three associate members. The Assembly is the highest
decision-making body of the LWF, and meets normally every six years.
Between Assemblies, the LWF is governed by its Council that meets
annually, and by its Executive Committee.
To order photographs, please contact
Assembly Home] [Links]