Churches at global meeting urged to tackle military outlay hikes

July 29, 2010

MILAN/GENEVA

A global churches' peace event scheduled for 2011 in Jamaica must tackle increased military spending by Western countries at a time of economic downturn, a meeting of Italian Christians has said.

“This is an affront to ethical values,” said a document issued by Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians at a June 2 meeting in Milan to prepare for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation to take place on the Caribbean island in May 2011.

The peace convocation, organized by the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, will mark the culmination of the WCC’s Decade to Overcome Violence. Launched in Berlin in 2001, the project highlights peace efforts by churches, ecumenical organizations, and civil society movements.

Speaking on June 13 at a separate meeting in Karlsruhe in Germany, former WCC General Secretary the Rev. Konrad Raiser said the Decade to Overcome Violence had helped “make visible the dramatic presence of violence and its many forms” in many regions and countries of the world.

He added that a document is being prepared in advance of the Jamaica gathering that will place the “vision for a just peace” at the center of churches’ efforts to promote a more peaceful world.

Raiser — WCC general secretary from 1993 to 2003 — is heading the team preparing the declaration to be published during the 2011 peace convocation.

In their statement, the Italian Christians said, “Violence has sometimes been justified by the churches.”

The statement also lamented unrest in Jamaica in late May that resulted in the deaths of more than 40 people as security forces sought to apprehend Christopher Coke for extradition to the United States on drugs and firearms charges.

The Milan gathering of Christians came in the week that nine people died after Israeli forces intercepted a flotilla of ships bound for the Gaza Strip.

In their statement, the 200 participants at the Italian event urged an end to the Israeli embargo against Gaza, and, referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, said “a peace for one Jerusalem for many peoples” was needed.

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