Women Hope to Shout for Rights at WCC Assembly

Portuguese-speaking women from churches in Angola, Brazil, Mozambique and Portugal recently urged the churches to commit themselves to “work together to make concrete changes in the lives of women and children, as a sign of the transforming grace of God."

“Violence is sin, and God calls us to salvation," stated the women as they prepared for the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC)

According to the WCC, they are hoping that this cry will be heard at the assembly to take place in Porto Alegre in February 2006.

"We note that violence against women, whether physical, sexual, psychological, economic or spiritual, is a reality in our churches and our countries," the women stated at the Aug. 11-15 meeting in Sâo Leopoldo, Brazil.

The meeting brought together Roman Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Reformed and Anglicans. There, the women discovered that the violence marking their daily lives was something else they shared.

In Mozambique, invoking the physical and psychological violence that is an integral part of life for women, the WCC noted in its Aug. 25 report.

"African women's hearts have been broken," said theologian Invicta Tivane.

"Unfortunately, in our culture, the belief that husbands must beat their wives to prove their love still exists," she explained.

According to Rev. Paulina Makumbu from Angola, "Power is still concentrated in men's hands.”

"There are African women who are educated but unemployed, and others who are working but badly paid, with husbands but who reproach them," she said.

Makumbu and the others hope that the Assembly will be an opportunity to "shout out" for women's rights.

In February, the WCC's ninth assembly will convene on the campus of Porto Alegre's Pontifical Catholic University (PUCRS) under the theme "God, in your grace, transform the world." It is expected to gather over 3,000 church leaders and ecumenical representatives from throughout the world for a week of prayer, reflection and celebration. The assembly is the highest governing body of the WCC, and is traditionally one of the broadest global gatherings of Christian churches.

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