"Spirituality of Resistance" key Theme of WCC's Contribution to World Social Forum

Jan 22, 2003 12:25 PM EST

For the World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation taking part in the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, 23-28 January, the emphasis will be on a spirituality directed towards resistance.

"We are witnessing the development of a spirituality that supports the powers responsible for the current unjust and unsustainable process of corporate globalization. For that reason, we need to recover the long tradition of a Christian spirituality critical of power. It is a spirituality which has given those without power the strength and courage to oppose those who abuse it," explains Rogate Mshana, responsible for the WCC's Economic Justice programme.

Delegation members will lead a series of workshops showing links between Christian spirituality and examples of resistance against the unjust world order by churches and social and ecumenical organizations.

The workshop subjects are: * water for life (alternatives to water privatization) * international challenges to peace movements * alternatives to economic globalization * the Decade to Overcome Violence: affirming peace and reconciliation * youth against globalization.

WCC delegation members will also participate in two discussion panels arranged by the Forum organizers. WCC director of Programme Genevieve Jacques will give a presentation in a panel on "Fighting intolerance: respect for diversity" (Saturday morning, 25 January), and the coordinator of the WCC programme on Impunity, Truth and Reconciliation Guillermo Kerber will speak on the panel "Democratic strategies to resolve international conflicts" (Sunday morning, 26 January).

WCC president Bishop Federico Pagura has been invited by the Forum organizers to share his experience as a Christian committed to the cause of the people in a "Testimonies" section (Monday afternoon 27 January). The selection criterion was that the contributors be "personalities whose lives and work for freedom and human dignity are examples and pointers towards a new world".

The WCC delegation will be active at the World Social Forum within the framework of an Ecumenical Caucus set up by the WCC, the Lutheran World Federation, the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, the Latin American Council of Churches and an ecumenical coalition of Brazilian churches and related organizations.

Intended as the voice of the ecumenical community at the Forum, the Caucus will be organizing: a seminar on church campaigns on trade in various countries and regions (Monday morning, 27 January) * an "encounter tent" on the campus of the Catholic Pontifical University * an ecumenical worship service on Sunday morning, 26 January, on the theme "Encountering spiritual paths to peace" * daily times of devotion.

"The churches were not very visible at earlier Forum meetings, although they strongly supported the causes on its agenda," Rogate Mshana comments. "We hope that our higher profile on this occasion will enable us to strengthen our participation in the social movements working to ensure that all human beings can live in dignity."

By Albert H. Lee
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