WCC Head Defines Ecumenism on Taiwan Visit

In a pastoral visit to the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, the head of the World Council of Churches stressed the significance of ecumenism while denouncing the possession of nuclear weapons.

The Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, WCC’s general secretary, concluded on Sunday his four-day visit to Taiwan where he and the PCT head affirmed the "true spirit of koinonia."

"The way we live our faith as churches ecumenically informs our common witness, just as our failure to act together and to give a clear witness to the world reflects our failure to be church," said Kobia in his remarks to faculty and students of the Taiwan Theological College and Seminary. "Ecumenism cannot be separated into spiritual or justice-oriented ecumenism, nor into church-based or world-open ecumenism. These different aspects belong together."

Kobia underscored the significance of working together in a later meeting with PCT’s general secretary, the Rev. Chang Te-Chien.

"The more we engage together as churches, the more we become fully a church. And that is what the ecumenical movement is all about," he said. "It is that space which brings churches together to witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ and to engage together to overcome any divisions we may have, doctrinally or otherwise."

Chang noted, "It is our hope and prayer that our unique partnership in the ecumenical family will continue to move forward in the true spirit of koinonia, as we strive to faithfully fulfill our mission calling on local, regional and global levels."

On another note, PCT members expressed concerns about the increasing proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region, especially the threat from China and North Korea.

Kobia made clear the WCC policy on nuclear proliferation: "The world should be rid of nuclear weapons."

"No country should claim nuclear weapons for themselves and at the same time question the right of others to have them," he added. "The WCC has made representation to the United Nations and has addressed all countries presently possessing nuclear weapons, including the most recent one, North Korea."

WCC is currently working with such countries as South Africa and Brazil – countries that have had the capacity to develop nuclear weapons but have chosen not to do so. These countries, Kobia said, are the only nations with the "moral authority to say 'stop.'"

"Although this is an extremely difficult issue in our world today, the WCC will remain relentless in pursuing an end to nuclear weapons."

Kobia's visit to Taiwan with a five-person ecumenical delegation follows a trip to China where he urged the expansion of space for the practice of religion. Although impressed by the growth of Christian communities in a country criticized for limiting and violating religious freedom, Kobia encouraged the government to ensure wider participation of religious people.