Aram I Meets with South Korea President

SEOUL–Receiving His Holiness Aram I Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia–members of World Council of Churches (WCC) executive committee and Korean church leaders in Seoul on 24 August–South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun expressed his strong appreciation to the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the ecumenical movement for its "fundamental assistance" in support of human rights and democratization in his country. He has also welcomed the contribution of the churches to promoting a peaceful reunification of divided Korea.

The president–who worked as a human rights lawyer defending pro-democracy and labor rights activists before taking up political office–was involved in the National Council of Churches (NCCK) human rights program. The contact with NCCK and the churches "opened my eyes to human rights and justice issues," he stated.

WCC moderator Catholicos Aram I underscored how the Christian understanding of reconciliation was closely linked to unification and the overcoming of division. "We are called by God in Jesus Christ to strive for reconciliation and unity in all its forms. The WCC is committed to working with all people of goodwill to overcome the barriers which divide our societies," he said.

The commitment of the WCC to the reunification of Korea was echoed by the organization’s general secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia. "WCC stands for de-nuclearization and disarmament in the Korean peninsula based on a negotiated agreement by all parties as a foundation of peace–and will continue to promote a policy of dialogue and exchange," he said.

During an exchange with executive committee members–president Roh Moo-hyun also expressed his support for the invitation of the Korean churches and of NCCK to host a future WCC assembly in Korea. The WCC general secretary thanked the president and said that the "WCC hopes and prays that an assembly would be possible in a united Korea in the near future."

The WCC executive committee will issue a statement on Korea at the end of the week that will express its serious concern about the human rights and humanitarian situation in North Korea–and will outline ongoing ecumenical efforts for the peaceful reunification of the divided country.

The WCC executive committee is meeting in Seoul between August 24-27 on the invitation of NCCK and the Korean churches.

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