The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, spoke yesterday at the Ecumentical Center in Geneva about the importance of Christian unity.
The responsibility of Christians who receive the gift of unity lies in "seeking a life in which no one is without the other," Williams told staff, visitors and governing members of the World Council of Churches (WCC).
"Unity is neither a means nor an end," he said. "Unity is what God has given us in the church," he told the roundtable discussion, that included representatives of the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed confessions of faith.
The Rev. John Gibaut, director of the WCC joint commission on Faith and Order, said disunity is often more evident than church unity, and noted different traditions describe the church in differing terms.
"If we cannot agree on what we mean by the church, we cannot begin to say much about the unity of the church," he said, noting that the joint commission is working on a proposed consensus document on "The Church."
The Rev. Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches, noted that Christians are called together for a purpose and depicted the unity of the church as both "a gift and an obligation for the people of God." Christians are not called simply to 'be' one, but to act together against injustice and violence, and to establish peace, he added.
Williams also emphasised the link between human rights and faith, arguing that the language of rights must not lose "its anchorage in a universalist religious ethic".
Later, in a keynote lecture entitled, "Human Rights and Religious Faith," Williams described the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 as a landmark in the history of moral consciousness.
"It has offered a global benchmark for identifying injustices to those who have never been able to make their voices heard," he said, and "a crucial way of working out what it is for people to belong together in a society."
Williams also voiced his concerns about the vulnerable position of religious minorities, noting that "this is particularly acute where there is vague tradition of tolerance towards a minority that has never quite amounted to full civic equality."
The Anglican Communion leader also flagged his concerns about the need to ensure proper protection of migrants, including asylum seekers, saying that "it is an area in which regression to attitudes of suspicion and harshness is in evidence in more than one society.
February 29th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes