LWF President Addresses Ethiopian Church’s Eighth Council Meeting
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia/GENEVA, 13 July 2012 (LWI) – Religions must reclaim faith as a force for justice, peace and love, Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, President of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), told the Eighth Council of the Ethiopian Evangelical Lutheran Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) at Addis Ababa on 12 July.
“No religion has a monopoly on hate or extremism. All of us are equally responsible and equally called to work together to seek the common, positive values of love, compassion, justice and peace, and together to uphold the sacred value of all, regardless of color, race, creed or religion,” he said.
Younan, who is bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land, was addressing the Ethiopian church’s leaders on the topic of coexistence at the end of a four-day solidarity visit.
The LWF president said the world is crying out for better vision and leadership in the midst of increasing violence, extremism and militarization, and he urged “moderate people of faith” to take back their religions.
“We, who are grounded in the real fundamentals of love, compassion, justice and peace, must affirm together that God has created every human life – indeed all of creation – to be cherished, protected and nurtured.
“We must stop demonizing one another in the name of God and instead try to see God in the other. We will then learn and grow from one another about what will give life, love, salaam/peace to this earth,” Bishop Younan added.
The LWF president praised the EECMY as a strong and vibrant witness to the love of Jesus Christ in northeast Africa and throughout the world, which has illustrated a commitment to the idea that theology cannot be divorced from the realities of the world.
He noted that his church and the EECMY have a great deal to learn from each other as they engage in their own unique social and political contexts.
In these contexts, Christians and Muslims need to commit themselves to coexistence, he added.
“In order to pursue coexistence with our Muslim neighbors, Christian religious leaders must model intentional engagement and dialogue with Muslims so we can provide an honest representation of them within our own communities. In dialogue, we erase our ignorance of one another,” Younan said.
Religions must adopt a kind of “prophetic dialogue for life” and engage each other in ways that address people’s suffering, challenge unjust structure and help to build a modern civil society, the LWF president noted.
“All too often religion has been part of the problem, dividing rather than uniting humanity. Our dialogue must work to bring us together to deal with the problems. Religion must be the solution, not the problem,” Bishop Younan said. (466 words)