Cultural Revolutions

The Seventh World Council of Churches

The World Council of Churches convened its Seventh Assembly at Canberra, Australia, early in February 1991, just in time to pronounce a verdict on the Persian Gulf War. The W.C.C. opposed the war on two grounds: that all war is wrong, and that it is not permissible to fight war to right an injustice unless one also fights all wars to right all injustices. The most striking expression of the first position came in a resolution brought by the German churches, calling on the Assembly "to give up any moral or theological justification for the use of military power, be it in war or other forms of oppressive security systems, and become advocates of a just peace." The motion was withdrawn when it became evident that there was insufficient time for the Assembly to act on it, but apparently it did reflect the sentiment of the majority: that just war doctrine no longer has any place in the thinking of the W.C.C. With respect to the second objection, the statement finally issued by the Assembly called on the United Nations Security Council to "enforce with equal vigor its earlier resolutions on the territorial integrity of Lebanon, the division of Cypress [and] Israel's withdrawal from the territories it occupied in 1967."

The W.C.C. also took the opportunity to throw as much cold water as it could on plans to celebrate 1992 as the quinquecentennial of Columbus' discovery of America: "We call upon the international religious community and...

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