In an address to the general assembly of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy in Rome on 16 November, World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit expressed gratitude for those who help refugees and migrants. At the same time, Tveit mourned the nearly 2,000 people who have died or are missing while trying to make the journey to reach the Mediterranean in the first ten months of 2018.
“How can it happen that in several wealthier countries that were shaped by a strong Christian influence, refugees and migrants meet such fierce rejection and become the objects of political battles for power?” he asked. “Even though we see again and again that many people practice hospitality and show solidarity, public perception is marked by a rhetoric of fear and rejection of the other.”
Tveit welcomed the joint initiative of Sant’ Egidio, the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy and the Waldensian Church for the humanitarian corridors for vulnerable refugees to Italy.
“We express our gratitude to you for this important example of solidarity and concrete help to so many people,” he said. “I would like to affirm and encourage all churches and believers, indeed all women and men of good will who have been welcoming the strangers, refugees and migrants and worked for their inclusion especially in societies where they tend to stigmatized and marginalized or excluded.”
The love of Christ is far more than emotions, Tveit continued. “Christian discipleship moved by love comes with responsibility for the other and accountability to family, to other people, to all creatures of God,” he said. “Disciples stand in solidarity next to the poor and marginalized and struggle for their rights.”
Christ provoked his disciples to extend their realm of responsibility and accountability beyond any border – including even enemies, Tveit noted. “Please let us together assume our responsibility and accountability to others as disciples of Christ, deepening our unity in Christ.”
World Council of Churches, oikoumene.org