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Only God can step in for where globalisation fails, says WCC leader

The top official of the World Council of Churches says climate change represents one of humanity’s most dire threats and he has appealed to denominations around to world to speak with one voice to alert political leaders to tackle the issue.

"Just as atomic weapons changed the very way we thought about life, so too the potential of major climatic changes put life as we know it in danger," WCC general secretary, the Rev. Samuel Kobia said in his main report presented on 15 February to the ninth assembly of the church grouping in Porto Alegre.

"This is not an issue for the future: severe consequences are already being experienced by millions of people," said Kobia. "We can prevent catastrophic climate change if we find effective ways of combining the voice of the churches with others who can make a difference. We must call on all Christian churches to speak to the world with one voice on addressing the threat of climate change."

The theme of the WCC gathering is "God, in your grace, transform the world", and Kobia in his report said that human beings had abused God’s gift of life.

"Our very climate is in jeopardy. In an era where there is more than enough food to go around many times over, 852 million people across the world are hungry, up from 842 million in 2003," noted Kobia. Still, he said, "Seen with the eyes of faith, we ourselves, and this world, can and must be transformed."

The assembly venue at Porto Alegre is famed for hosting the first World Social Forum in 2001 that brought together opponents of corporate-driven globalisation under the slogan, "Another World is Possible".

The WCC leader’s appeal follows a series of initiatives by churches in recent years on climate change. On 8 February, more than 80 US evangelical Christian leaders urged action by their government.

"For most of us, until recently this has not been treated as a pressing issue or major priority. Indeed, many of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that climate change is a real problem and that it ought to matter to us as Christians," the signatories noted in the statement called "Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action".

Still, media reports stated that some evangelical leaders had refused to sign the document.

The issue also featured in a message sent to the WCC gathering by Patriarch Bartholomeos I, seen by many as the leader of Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide, and who is sometimes called the Green Patriarch because of his public support for the environmental cause.

He said he would support the efforts undertaken by the WCC for "the protection of creation which is a gift of God entrusted to humanity".

Earlier Kobia told a media conference the WCC had played a pioneering role in raising awareness of the dangers posed by climate change.

"The WCC introduced the whole issue of the environment and justice that has since been picked up by the United Nations * and now it has become mainstream," he said.

The WCC’s more than 340 member churches are drawn predominantly from Protestant, Anglican and Christian Orthodox traditions.

The Roman Catholic Church does not belong to the grouping but cooperates with the church council in many areas and the WCC Assembly is being held on a Catholic university campus.

(c) Ecumenical News International