Kottayam, India: The 15th General Assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia discussed a wide range of emerging concerns and issues and adopted statements such as ‘Against Increasing Militarisation in Asia’, ‘Australia’s First Peoples Voice’, ‘Exploitative Extraction of Natural Resources leading to Environmental Crises and Forcible Displacement’, ‘Peace in the Korean Peninsula’, ‘Creation Care’, ‘Human Dignity and Wholeness of Life’, ‘Public Debt’, ‘Human Trafficking and Forced Migration’, ‘Ending Human Rights Violations in the Philippines’, and ‘Situation in Nagorno-Karabakh’.
The statement on ‘Australia’s First Peoples’ Voice’ affirmed, “We recognise that the struggles faced by indigenous peoples are not confined by geographical borders, but are universal in their call for recognition, empowerment, and reconciliation. In this spirit of solidarity and faith, the 15th General Assembly of the Christian Conference of Asia presents this statement on the issue of Australia’s First Peoples referendum and voice, reaffirming our unwavering commitment to accompanying the indigenous peoples of Asia and beyond on their collective journey towards justice and reconciliation.”
The statement on ‘Exploitative Extraction of Natural Resources leading to Environmental Crises and Forcible Displacement’ addressed the pervasive issue of extractive exploitation and exploitative business practices that continued to afflict Asian indigenous communities, who faced exploitation by profit-focused industries. The statement specifically referred to the ecological crisis in Indonesia.
‘Reconciliation and Peace on the Korean Peninsula’ was the statement that acknowledged the 70th anniversary of the armistice between South and North Korea and said “We are reminded once again that the Korean War is not over; peace is imperfect, and war can break out at any time. On this 70th anniversary of the armistice, we fervently pray for true peace on the Korean Peninsula.”
‘Let Peace be the Imperative, Not the Alternative’ was the statement that called to attention the “alarming surge in militarisation and the frenzied arms race sweeping across Asia”. The statement further elaborated, “Billions of dollars that could be redirected to address pressing issues, like hunger and poverty, are instead squandered on building up vast arsenals. This diversion of resources is exacerbated by the onslaught of neoliberalism and cut-throat competition among affluent nations, which exploit economically vulnerable communities in Asia and inflict devastating consequences on their people. The environment suffers, and precious resources that communities rely on for their livelihoods, such as fishing and agriculture, are depleted.”
The statement on ‘Creation Care’ reiterated the importance of the 15th General Assembly theme, ‘God, Renew Us in Your Spirit and Restore the Creation’, amidst the ‘poly-crisis’ of the world with dimensions of hunger, poverty, economic discrepancies, inequalities, ethnic, political, religious, and gender violence, conflict and tensions, migration, trafficking, religious fundamentalism, and the struggles of minority faith communities, among others. The statement exhorted CCA constituencies to “give increased priority to advocacy and strategies that directly address the sources of the poly-crisis”.
‘Human Dignity and Wholeness of Life’ formed the focus of the sixth statement. “Health, healing, and wholeness are central to God’s divine grace and purpose for humanity, which involves harmonious living-in-community with God, people, and the entire creation. The Church can play a greater role in witnessing and participating creatively in the divine ministry of healing, restoring wholeness in broken human lives with compassion, and being one with our Lord in His self-emptying and unconditional love. In this spirit, we acknowledge the need to address sensitive issues specifically pertaining to disability, mental health, geriatric and palliative care, and sexual and reproductive health within our diverse communities,” read the statement.
The statement on ‘Public Debt’ drew attention to the situation in Sri Lanka which had caused the country to declare bankruptcy, which had given rise to a serious political and economic crisis. Citing Sri Lanka as an example, the statement highlighted the vulnerabilities of several Asian countries to such debt crises and called upon the CCA constituencies to “initiate and advocate appropriate processes to prevail upon the countries that have provided such loans, to seriously consider debt cancellation, which alone would enable the people of such nations to emerge from such crisis within a democratic space that ensures their dignity”.
‘Human Trafficking and Forced Migration’ was the statement that shone a light on the complex nature and interconnectedness of different patterns of mobility and migration that are to be seen in Asia today. The statement called upon CCA constituencies to strengthen their migrant ministries, become places of welcome, healing, and hospitality for victims of human trafficking; to educate congregations on the reality of trafficking and forced migration, and engage in advocacy at the national and international levels, among others.
The statement on ‘Ending Human Rights Violations in the Philippines’ expressed “grave concern over reports from our siblings in Christ in the Philippine churches regarding the unabated human rights violations (HRVs) under a worsening climate of impunity in their country”, such as extrajudicial killings, red-tagging, and other violations in relation to the government’s counter-insurgency programme.
The Statement on ‘Situation in Nagorno-Karabakh’ urged the immediate lifting of the blockade in Nagorno-Karabakh and expressed deep concern about the worsening humanitarian crisis within the blockaded region. It called for dialogue and diplomatic initiatives to establish just and lasting peace in the region.
The Pre-Assembly Statements from the Asian Ecumenical Youth Assembly, the Asian Ecumenical Women’s Assembly, and the Asian Ecumenical Migrants Advocacy Network Pre-Assembly meeting were also received by the General Assembly.
All Assembly and Pre-Assembly Statements can be found by clicking the links below:
- Australia’s First Peoples’ Voice
- Exploitative Extraction of Natural Resources
- Peace in the Korean Peninsula
- Against Increasing Militarisation in Asia
- Creation Care
- Human Dignity and Wholeness of Life
- Public Debt
- Human Trafficking and Forced Migration
- Ending Human Rights Violations in the Philippines
- Situation in Nagorno-Karabakh
- Asian Ecumenical Youth Pre-Assembly Statement: We Have a Vision of Heaven on Earth
- Asian Ecumenical Women’s Pre-Assembly: Asian Ecumenical Women Journeying Towards the Renewal and Restoration of God’s Creation
- Asian Ecumenical Migrants Advocacy Network (AEMAN) Pre-Assembly Forum Meeting: The Rights and Dignity of Asian Migrant Workers in the Diaspora
For more photos (photo gallery) please click here: CCA Assembly adopts statements on ecumenical responses, 3 October 2023