Image via WikipediaDelegates of churches from 32 European countries, with participants from churches from all over the world, met in Budapest from 8 – 12 November 2010 for the consultation “Poverty, Wealth and Ecology in Europe”.
The consultation was part of a broad ecumenical process initiated by the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Porto Alegre in 2006. It was organised jointly by the Conference of European Churches and the World Council of Churches.
In a preamble to their statement, the report makes the following points about the experience of the consultation:
- In visiting local communities, we have been faced with the impacts of the economic crisis in Hungary.
- We have discussed widespread poverty in the rich continent of Europe, worsened by the present financial collapse.
- We are concerned by growing injustice, social polarization and sharpening regional disparities of Europe.
- We note the broad social and economic gap between old and new member states of the European Union.
- We recognize that great sections of Eastern Europe and many in the Western parts in the present situation are confronted with the suffering of people living under abject poverty, and that this is therefore a priority of the churches concerned.
- We acknowledge that we are part of societies which are obsessed by the ideology of growth and consumerism.
- We demand that people should be in the centre of economic policies.
- We have criticized the primacy of economy over people and creation as a whole.
- We as the people of God are called to participate in the work of God in this world, extending God’s love and care to all human and non-human members of the ‘community of creation’.
- We recognize that unsustainable methods of wealth creation and the adherence to unlimited growth impoverish communities and harm creation as a whole.
- In the light of these insights, which we identify as signs of a profound spiritual crisis, we, the delegates of European churches released the Budapest Call for Climate Justice – addressing poverty, wealth and ecology.
Ekklesia have posted a useful summary of the background to the consultation, wherein they quote Dr Rogate Mshana, director of the WCC programme on Justice, Peace and Creation, who says: "The meeting in Budapest showed the importance of international ecumenical cooperation on the issues of poverty eradication and care for creation. Christians have an important message for today's world: we are all responsible to advocate and work for systems that eradicate poverty and must not let our lives be defined by systems of greed. The churches in the different countries and regions can make this message heard in different places and can hold each other accountable."