World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Easter Appeal for a Cessation of Armed Conflicts

31 May 1999

Issued by Konrad Raiser (WCC), Keith Clements (CEC), Ishmael Noko (LWF), Milan Opocensky (WARC), Joe Hale (WMC), Denton Lotz (BWA), and John L. Peterson of the Anglican Communion, 31 March 1999.

In this season of Easter, Christians around the world share the profound pain of all those caught up in tragedies such as Kosovo. Our hearts go out to all those who are suffering the terrible consequences of the violence being inflicted on God's children in this region and in many other parts of the world. We lament the failure of imagination, collective will and human spirit made manifest in the incapacity to address the causes of conflict through peaceful means. As we remember again the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the one proclaimed by the prophets as the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, our hearts are heavy for we recognize that we have not yet been able to overcome our inclination to turn to the sword in moments of doubt and fear.

Kosovo is but one of the many conflicts around the world today where people take up arms against one another out of fear, hate, greed or hopelessness. Many of these wars are largely hidden from the view of the wider world, and some of them have claimed an even more terrible toll than is now being inflicted in the Balkans. So we pray this Easter for all of those in Yugoslavia and elsewhere whose lives are shattered by war.

Leaders of Christian churches in both East and West, and leaders of other religious faiths have appealed in recent days for a cessation of such acts of violence and for the settlement of conflict by negotiation. Regrettably, such voices have not yet been heard over the clamour of charges and countercharges, and the roar of bombs, landmines and guns.

in the name of God who loves humankind, in the name of the human race, in the name of civilization, at this season of the religious feast of the Muslims, the Easter of Roman Catholics and Protestants, the Passover of the Jews and the Pascha of the Orthodox, on bended knees [I] fervently appeal from the tormented depths of my heart to all world government leaders, to military commanders and to those who bear arms throughout the world, that they cease fire immediately and permanently. We beseech them to use mutual understanding and mutual concession to resolve peacefully their regional, international and worldwide disputes, in order that the God of peace and mercy might bless them and all people.

In this same spirit, we appeal to Christians around the world in these high holy days to join their hearts and spirits in this prayer that the bombings may cease and that the guns may fall silent. May the Spirit descend among us and inspire in us the courage to sacrifice our individual wills in order that the peace of the Risen Christ may prevail.