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Peace with Justice for the whole Creation - Message

Convened by the Conference of European Churches and the Council of the European Episcopal Conferences, the European Ecumenical Assembly PEACE WITH JUSTICE met in Basel from 15th to 21st May 1989. During these days, over 700 delegates and thousands of Christians from all the churches of Europe have prayed, discussed and reflected together on their common Christian task under the biblical watchword: "Justice and peace embrace each other" (Pa. 85). The findings and recommendations of the Assembly are presented in a detailed document adopted by the Assembly on May 20th. The following text is the Message addressed by the Assembly to the Christians of Europe.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

1. For the first time delegates from all the churches of Europe, in East and West, North and South, have met together across confessional and political boundaries which only a short time ago seemed insurmountable. Deep though the wounds of Europe's past may be, the bonds which unite us in Christ have proved stronger. A fellowship is growing which confirms our hope and for this we give God thanks.

2. "Justice and peace embrace each other." This vision of the psalmist has been the watchword of our Assembly. But how much comes between us and this promise: Millions of men, women and children perish in poverty, hunger and war. Basic human rights are violated day in day out. Whole species of plants and animals are being irreparably wiped out. The life of us all as well as that of future generations is under threat today.

3. What does the Gospel say to us Christians in Europe today? Repentance is the condition of credible witness. We must turn back to the Creator who in love cares for all and each of His creatures; to Jesus Christ the Son of God, the pattern of true humanity; to the Holy Spirit, the source of new life. We European Christians in particular have helped to cause the present world crisis. We ask God, therefore, to forgive us our sins and to give us grace to repent, that we way become instruments of His peace.

4. God's final purpose for humanity remains an inscrutable mystery. Believing in the Gospel as the revelation of this mystery, however, we are persuaded that God will shepherd His creation to safety and deliverance. On the rock of this assurance we resist fatalism of any sort. Today, too, like the Apostle Paul, we have to pass on the invitation: Be ye reconciled to God! But that means, at the same time: Oppose the forces of destruction and death!

  • Every human being, irrespective of sex, race, nationality and language, is the bearer of the divine image and therefore equally a member of society. Let us therefore bear clear witness to the truth and simpler life-style.
  • Poverty and starvation are a scandal which permits us no rest. We commit ourselves to sharing both at world level and locally. We shall support every step which will help to remove the burden of debt under which many countries of the Third World are now being crushed.
  • War must be abandoned as the method of settling conflicts. We shall do all we can in our own respective countries to ensure the realisation of the vision of common defence as the way to real national security. We commit ourselves today to the creation of reciprocal trust across national frontiers, an atmosphere in which the readiness to eliminate nuclear, chemical and conventional weapons can grow. An indispensable part of the way to reconciliation is the witness to the power of non-violence.
  • Let us nail the lie that we have unlimited freedom to exploit the natural world as we will. To deal with nature in the way of peace requires us to reject economic and social structures which are a threat o life. It has been borne in on us again in recent days that the present profligate waste of resources and energy must be drastically reduced. Of all of us is required a radically different and simpler life-style.

5. To carry out the task entrusted to us, we need each other. God's covenant in Jesus Christ stands firm. With this promise accompanying us, we shall stand together in solidarity as brothers and sisters. The political and social changes taking place in Europe today are an occasion for hope. Our desire is to do whatever we can together to establish greater justice, more openness to dialogue and a deeper respect for the gifts of creation. Since the crisis itself takes no notice of national boundaries, our fellowship must also transcend these boundaries. It must be looking for friendship and cooperation with all who are seeking peace with justice, whatever their religion or persuasion. Only so will it be able to become a sign of hope in this threatened and divided world.
The Spirit of God who brought us together here in Basel will again and again be at work far beyond all we ask or think. We believe He is already preparing to ensure that the seed which has been planted here will spring up and bear fruit. That is our hope. That is our prayer.


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