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Makes Last-ditch Appeal to Canadian Government on Visa Denials
Controversy Highlights Exclusion of Poorest from World Community
Canada, 20 July 2003 (LWI) – The leadership of the Lutheran
World Federation (LWF) issued a last-ditch appeal to the Canadian
authorities to issue visas for over 60 participants of the LWF Tenth
Assembly, due to start here tomorrow.
Over 800 official participants, including some 400 delegates from
member churches, have been invited by the global body to attend the
July 21-31 Assembly. Of these, about 35 percent require visas to
“If immediate action is taken, it still might not be too late for
the Canadian Government to rectify this matter,” the Federation’s
Council said of the visa denials, in a statement issued here today
after its July 19-20 meeting.
The Council expressed “deepest concern and outrage” about the visa
denials, noting that they only affect participants from among the
poorest nations of the world.
“This situation reflects one of the most deplorable aspects of
globalization.” The result is that churches “of the South, the poor
and the marginalized” are excluded from the global community.
The visa controversy highlights “the brokenness of human
relationships” in the world that the Assembly theme seeks to address.
The meeting’s theme is “For the Healing of the World”.
One of the Assembly’s main actions is to elect the new Council,
which will then meet here August 1-2.
The Council gives leadership to the LWF between assemblies. Most of
the present Council’s members were elected at the Federation’s
previous Assembly, in 1997.
The full text of the Council’s statement follows below:
by the Council of the Lutheran World Federation
On the eve of
the opening of the Tenth Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF)
in Winnipeg, the leadership of this global church family expresses
its deepest concern and outrage that over 60 delegates and official
participants from around the world have not received visas from the
Government of Canada to enable them to attend this meeting.
The LWF is a federation of 136 member churches of the Lutheran
communion in 73 countries, representing a total of approximately 63
million people. In addition to serving as a forum for the worldwide
Lutheran community, the LWF is also a major institution for mission,
theological reflection, ecumenical dialogue, development cooperation
and humanitarian assistance. The Assembly is the highest
decision-making body of the LWF, in which representatives of all
member churches are entitled to participate. The Assembly takes
place only once every 6 years, and sets the direction for the LWF’s
work for the coming period. Comprehensive participation is therefore
It is the first time that the LWF has held its Assembly in Canada,
and we have been warmly and enthusiastically received by the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) as host church. The
joy of this celebration of global Christian fellowship is dimmed by
visa difficulties of a magnitude completely unprecedented in the
more than 50 year history of the LWF.
We are very grateful for the untiring efforts of the ELCIC and the
LWF’s Secretariat in Geneva to secure the favourable consideration
of these outstanding visa applications. However, the response thus
far of the Canadian authorities has been in effect to deny entry to
participants exclusively from among the poorest nations of the
world. This situation reflects one of the most deplorable aspects of
globalization, namely the exclusion of the South, the poor and the
marginalized from the global community. It illustrates very
concretely and painfully the brokenness of human relationships that
the theme of the Assembly, ‘For the Healing of the World’, seeks to
The situation is also a poor reflection of Canada’s traditional
policies of openness, internationalism and support for the
developing world. The lack of recognition and responsiveness to the
concerns already repeatedly raised by the ELCIC with Citizenship and
Immigration Canada manifests a very saddening disregard for the
church’s role in this society.
If immediate action is taken, it still might not be too late for the
Canadian Government to rectify this matter, and to facilitate the
fulfillment of the Assembly’s primary purpose as a truly global
gathering of the Lutheran church family. We appeal to the Canadian
Government to be a force ‘For the Healing of the World’, to avoid
promoting division and marginalization, and to issue these visas now.
The Tenth 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 some 800 men, women and youth participants in the Tenth
Assembly, including 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.
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