WCC NEWS: During dialogue on COVID-19, WCC acting general secretary reflects on “our shared vulnerability—and shared fate—as one humanity”
During dialogue on COVID-19, WCC acting general secretary reflects on “our shared vulnerability—and shared fate—as one humanity”
Speaking during a 30 August “Dialogue on COVID-19 and Consequences for Global Multilateral Cooperation,” World Council of Churches (WCC) acting general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca offered a keynote speech focusing on urgent efforts to sustain a global, multinational dialogue and cooperation in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Everyday life on a street in Brazil, July 2021. Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC
30 August 2021
The conference was hosted by The Foundation Dialogue for Peace and moderated by Norway’s former prime minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik.
Along with the WCC, representatives from the Muslim World League and the World Health Organization shared experiences with ministers, ambassadors, politicians, peace associations and others.
Sauca’s presence stemmed from the WCC receiving a Bridge Builder Award for its work on interreligious cooperation in the interests of peace. Other keynote speakers were H.E. Dr Muhammad Bin Abulkarim Al-Issa, secretary general of the Muslim World League, who also received the award this year, and H.E. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, who received the award last year, and H.E. Jagan Chapagain, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and H.E. Børge Brende, president of the World Economic Forum.
“In fact, of course, it is the pandemic that brings us together today, even as the virus and its variants run rampant and the enormous task of vaccinating, protecting and aiding the population continues to tax our health and economic systems,” said Sauca. “But let it never tax our courage and fortitude!”
Sauca offered a summary of how the WCC, as a global fellowship of Christian churches with over 550 million members, responded to the pandemic. “Given that staff travel and conferences were suddenly out of the question, much of the effectiveness of the WCC in this period stemmed from its rapid development of communications vehicles that could share stories from the wider fellowship, report on COVID-related initiatives, and highlight good practices among churches responding to COVID-19,” he said. “They have brought to light concrete examples of how faith communities are and can be adapting.”
The WCC’s identity as a fellowship united in prayer and service has been made more visible through the publication of daily morning prayers and weekly prayer texts contributed by members of the fellowship, Sauca explained.
“As you can see, this time has been one of learning anew about the role of the WCC and the global fellowship in the unfolding drama of our planet and its people,” Sauca said. “A measure of our accountability—as individuals and as churches—lies in our openness to being transformed ourselves and to transforming our world by meeting the concrete needs of others.”
It is our responsibility and call to contribute multilaterally to alleviate this pandemic, Sauca said. “Fundamentally, I think, we have learned the real importance of our work, not in spite of our faith identity but because of it,” he said. “Our identity as a global Christian fellowship enables us to address this crisis in its deeper cultural and spiritual dimensions, to break barriers and build bridges, and to work relationally.”
Religious organizations are uniquely positioned for practical local engagement with issues of healthcare, Sauca said. “The fundamental learning from this pandemic has been of our shared vulnerability—and shared fate—as one humanity,” he concluded. “We now feel more keenly the fragility of human life—indeed, of all life on this planet.”