Remarks at GNRC Third Forum Opening Ceremony
by Rev. Dr. Ofelia Ortega
President, World Council of Churches
Dear and sisters and brothers:
Greetings of behalf of the World Council of Churches, the Institution that I am chairing at present. Specially, receive fraternal greetings from Sam Kobia, our General Secretary.
We thank the invitation of Arigatou Foundation and Rev. Takeyasu Miyamoto to participate in this III Global Red Forum of Religions in favour of childhood.
In the UNICEF Report of the year 2007 (Progress for Children) they point out four fundamental aspects for childhood:
- Promotion of a healthy life
- Quality Education
- Working hard to overcome the VIH/AIDS
- Protection against aggression, exploitation and violence.
The question of childhood has always been a central focus of the WCC. As such, it has been tackled in many of its programs.
In the year 2001 we started the "Decade for Overcoming Violence". In all the continents where this issue was dealt with, the churches and the civil society were called to overcome all forms of ill-treatment at home, in society, in the schools as well as in the churches. In Latin America, they even opened a school curriculum with the aim of educating children and of looking for non-violent solutions in their relations.
Education must be understood as one of the chief rights of childhood.
The other program the WCC has maintained for decades is the search of justice, peace, and the integrity of creation.
This program emphasizes that the abuse of working children and the questions of poverty and need, where children are the most vulnerable group, strengthen or maximize the risk of their physical, intellectual, emotional, creative and psychological development.
Currently, when one of the main problems is hunger and the food crisis children are the most affected group in the developing countries. We need to remember that every 5 seconds a child die because of hunger in the World.
As communities of religious people, it is our responsibility to face the reality that today is affecting our societies, which is known as the "silent tsunami".
At present climatic changes are sweeping away our children's lives, so this must another concern to be included in our contextual analyses.
Children mean the present. If we do not educate them and take care of them in fulfilment of their current rights, they will have no future. There is a biblical text that expresses very clearly what God demands of us:
"Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord. Lift your hands toward God for the life of your children, who faint from hunger at the head of every street."