Peace with Justice for the whole Creation - I. The European Ecumenical Assembly Peace with Justice

1. We are assembled here in Basel to examine together what the Holy Spirit tells the churches today. We are aware of the deadly threats which humanity is facing today. But God is a God of life who will not abandon the work of his hands. Rather, God calls us to abandon the ways of injustice, violence and exploitation. God's call for conversion is the door to life.

2. We give thanks to God, the Creator of all that exists; to God the Son who has reconciled the world with the Father and offers salvation to all people, individually and together; to God the Spirit, who brings life and makes perfect. We look forward to the coming of the reign of God where justice and peace will embrace each other and the whole of creation will be made new. We give thanks for every sign of the reign of God manifest in our midst.

3. The European Ecumenical Assembly PEACE WITH JUSTICE, held in Basel from 15 to 21 May 1989 has proved to be an important landmark in ecumenical co-operation. The decision to hold the European Assembly PEACE WITH JUSTICE was taken at the CEC General Assembly in 1986. We, almost 700 delegates from the 120 member churches of the Conference of European Churches (CEC) and the 25 Bishops' Conferences of the Council of European Bishops Conferences (CCEE) rejoice in the wide representation from the churches and peoples of Europe. At the same time, we note with regret that no Christians residing in Albania were able to attend the Assembly. The decision of CEC followed the call of the Vancouver 1983 General Assembly of the World Council of Churches to its member churches to enter now into a "conciliar process of mutual commitment (covenant) for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation". Most of the member churches of CEC understand the Basel Assembly also to be a contribution in this "conciliar process". Other churches taking part in the Assembly prefer not to use the term "conciliar process". But all the churches represented in Basel agree that they are committed to an ecumenical process for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation.

4. We understand our Assembly in Basel as an opportunity for common prayer, consultation and affirmation in the hope and expectation that the Holy Spirit will use it for reconciliation, renewal and transformation of the churches, leading them closer to the truth of the Gospel and deepening their solidarity and mutual love. We are convinced that Christians need to meet at every level of the churches' life to coordinate their response to the threats hanging over the future of humanity. Their witness and life will be decisive. We rejoice in the many forces both in our churches and our societies already working for justice, for peace and for a deeper respect for the rights of every creature. We rejoice that we are not alone in this struggle. The basis of our commitment is faith in Jesus Christ. We also want to be in dialogue with people of other faiths and world views who share the same concerns. The way to a sustainable future can only be found through a common effort.

5. We have been called by the CEC and CCEE. We speak here as delegates from the churches in Europe. Even if our churches are not yet in full communion, we want to give a common testimony to the faith by which we live as Christians. The following text is primarily addressed to the churches, to their members, to groups and individuals. Our first concern is a renewed Christian response to the signs of the times. It is through our churches that we address governments and societies.  

6. The structure of this document is modelled on the three steps "see, judge, act". The text starts with a description of the situation (chapter II). The following chapters deal with our common faith and conversion (chapters III and IV). At the end the text focuses on a vision of the future of Europe and affirmations, recommendations and practical commitments (chapters V and VI).

7. The level of interest and commitment shown in the churches on the issues of justice, peace and the integrity of creation, as well as the deep commitment shown by other groups in society working on these issues, is a source of renewed hope and encouragement to us.

© 2001 by Ulrich Schmitthenner • Bildschirm-Version