`Ecumenical movements facing challenges'

A Correspondent

The weakening of churches in Europe and North America is the biggest challenge faced by ecumenical movements, says Samuel Kobia.

NEDUMBASSERY: Ecumenical movements across the world are facing serious challenges, Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), has said.

Talking to reporters here at the Cochin International Airport on Thursday, Dr. Kobia said the Church was undergoing a change with various new forms of church organisations being formed, which had implications for the ecumenical movements.

He was here to attend the 112th Maramon Convention.

He said that massive migration led to the formation of migrant churches with the assistance of diasporas. This was having some effect on the mainline churches thereby impacting the ecumenical activities, he said.

Dr. Kobia, however, pointed out the weakening of churches in Europe and North America as the biggest challenge faced by ecumenical movements. These churches provided the financial resources for ecumenical activities besides helping the implementation of developmental works undertaken by the Church.

According to him, churches in Europe and North America were shrinking while they were growing very fast in Asia, including India, and to certain extent in Africa. "We are gaining in the South while losing in the North," he opined.

He lamented that many churches in Europe were being closed down, as people were no longer going to churches. They were getting converted into restaurants and other such commercial facilities, and in some instances taken over by Muslims for setting up mosques, he said.

He said the ecumenical movements would have to find a way to change this trend and the churches in the South would have to help the churches in the North.

Asked about the issue of conversion in India, Dr. Kobia said the Church had always promoted dialogue within the Christian community and between Christians and the people of other faiths. He said that a meeting convened last year by the WCC in association with the Vatican had discussed the issue of conversion.

It decided to promote dialogue between religions for better understanding of each religion which alone would help to solve problems.

Asked whether he had any solution to the ongoing fight in Kerala between the two factions of the Church, he said that he could not comment on the issue without learning about it.

Earlier, Dr. Kobia said that he was here to encourage the churches and believers in the State and to spread the message of hope.

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