PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil – Speaking to Christians from throughout the world, U.S. representatives apologized at the World Council of Churches Ninth Assembly for U.S. actions that “endanger the human family and abuse the creation.”
The statement from the U.S. Conference for the WCC also expresses mourning for all who have died or been injured in the Iraq war.
“We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched with deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights,” the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky read from the document. Kishkovsky is moderator of the U.S. Conference, which includes U.S. churches that are council members, including his own Orthodox Church in America.
The document expresses gratitude for the way churches around the world embraced the United States in compassion in the days after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and after Hurricane Katrina.
The document, which was not endorsed by the U.S. churches’ decision-making bodies, states that the U.S. representatives are disappointed that the country responded to 9/11 by seeking “to reclaim a privileged, secure place in the world, raining down terror on vulnerable global neighbors.” Kishkovsky said God has been “enlisted in (U.S.) agendas that are nothing short of idolatrous.”
Speaking at a news conference earlier, Kishkovsky said the delegation was making the statement to the ecumenical community to “show repentance and solidarity with those who suffered.”
The Rev. Sharon Watkins, president of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ and a conference attendee, said the letter “is not an attempt to undermine American troops.”
“They are brave men and women who are our sons, daughters and neighbors,” she said.
“We are making the statement to acknowledge solidarity with the suffering,” Watkins said. “We need to say we are profoundly sorry.”
The Rev. John Thomas, president of the United Church of Christ, said U.S. Christians are complicit in the war because “we have failed to fully raise our voices to challenge the body politic.”
Presented in the form of a prayer of repentance, the message also addresses global warming, saying the United States “refuses to acknowledge its responsibility” for the trend.
“Starvation, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, treatable diseases that go untreated indict us, revealing the grim features of global economic injustice we have too often failed to acknowledge or confront,” the statement says.
Hurricane Katrina revealed a “rupture of our social contract,” the document states. “As a nation we have refused to confront the racism that infects our policies around the world.”
Thomas said the United States is perceived as a dangerous nation among people from other countries, but that the statement says, “We come to you seeking to be partners in the search for unity and justice.”