STATEMENT FOR INTERFAITH VIGIL WASHINGTON D.C. 20 JULY 2021

With its horrible human harvest, the COVID-19 pandemic has instilled fear, extreme anxiety, and confusion like no other natural calamity in recent history. The pandemic forcefully reminds us that we are one world, one humanity, and more interdependent than we imagined. It has also exposed the fault lines of global inequality in access to health care and other basic needs.

COVID-19 offers us an opportunity to stand together and press the reset, revision, and recalibrate button to work for a transformed world in which we commit to sharing resources, walking softly on the earth, and affirming dignity of all humanity. We note with gratitude the work of the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and other international organizations.

We commend the bold initiative by President Biden to remedy vaccine apartheid globally through the purchase and donation of half a billion vaccines to 92 low and lower-middle-income countries and the African Union. We, however, note that more needs to be done, like the approval of the TRIPS waiver to remove the legal barriers to cooperation in generic manufacturing of Covid-19 medical products.

As we navigate unchartered waters, the World Methodist Council stands in solidarity with inter-faith leaders. We tap into the spiritual resources of all religions and people of goodwill to work towards a substantial structural and systemic change that will allow the poor greater access to healthcare.

Together we can do more and make a difference!

 

                                                                                                                                                          Ivan M Abrahams                                                                                                                                                                                  General Secretary

Organisations representing a half billon Christians worldwide urge G20 to fix a broken global tax system

In a letter to the G20 finance ministers before the International Tax Symposium on 9 July, organizations representing a half billion Christians worldwide urged that it has never been more urgent and necessary to fix our broken global tax system.

      Photo: Marcelo Schneider/WCC

The World Council of Churches, World Communion of Reformed Churches, Lutheran World Federation, World Methodist Council, and Council for World Mission urged strong social protection measures in all countries to ensure that the poor and vulnerable are able to weather COVID-19s unprecedented health and economic consequences.

The pandemic has revealed once again the importance of peoples access to essential health care and basic income security throughout their lives,” reads the letter. To date rich countries have spent 35.6 percent of their GDPs on responding to the health emergency and supporting employment and businesses.”

In contrast, low-income countries were only able to expend a meagre 6 percent of their GDPs on fighting the pandemic and are even now struggling to meet the demands of protecting their citizens, the letter notes.

As the most sustainable source of revenue, tax systems have a pivotal role to play in bolstering social sector initiatives and financing the recovery from the crisis,” the letter continues. We acknowledge recent efforts by the international community at tax reform, not least the G7 proposal for a 15% global corporate minimum tax.”

The endemic injustices of global poverty, racial inequity, health inequality and climate change are rooted in the legacies of colonial exploitation and resource extraction, and call for systemic change, urges the letter. The pandemic shows us peoples lives and livelihoods are at stake, at a time when the life of the earth is also under threat, the letter reads. Not only is tax justice at the heart of any recovery plan, it is crucial for mitigating widening inequality and stepping up to the challenges posed by a rapidly warming climate.”

Read the full letter

Archbishop joins Red Cross Red Crescent, UNHCR and global faith leaders in urgent call to end vaccine nationalism

Worldwide Christian and other faith leaders have joined with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the International Committee of the Red Cross President and humanitarian groups urging global leaders to ensure equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines around the world. 

On the opening day of the World Health Assembly, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have said that global leaders must choose between “vaccine nationalism or human solidarity”. 

In a joint Declaration co-signed on May 24 by international faith leaders and humanitarian groups, Archbishop Justin Welby and ICRC president Peter Maurer said that equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines is a humanitarian imperative. 

The statement is signed by Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies (IFRC), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The faith leaders include senior representatives from all the major Christian denominations, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and Azza Karam and Rabbi David Rosen of Religions for Peace. 

The Declaration, which calls for decisive leadership from countries and organizations across the world, states: “There is a choice. The world of the next 10 years can be one of greater justice, abundance and dignity. Or it can be one of conflict, insecurity and poverty. We are at a turning point.”

The catastrophic impacts of the pandemic, combined with existing issues of conflict, disaster and famine, mean that the world is facing the challenge of reversing “devastating dynamics”, the leaders say. 

“People not only need vaccinations – they need access to healthcare workers who are skilled and equipped to deliver adequate medical support. We need to build a world where each community, regardless of where they live, or who they are, has urgent access to vaccinations: not just for COVID-19, but also for the many other diseases that continue to harm and kill. As the pandemic has shown us, in our interdependent world no one is safe until everyone is safe.”  

The Declaration calls on world leaders to: 

  • Ensure equitable vaccine access both within and between countries by providing vaccines and funding as well as sharing knowledge and expertise.
  • Leave no one behind, including stigmatised and marginalised communities for whom access to healthcare is already a challenge.
  • Focus on the broader health picture for vulnerable populations – so that people aren’t protected from Covid only to die from Polio.

The full text of the Declaration and signatories can be found below. 

COVID 19 Treatment Centre in Aden, Yemen. (Picture: ICRC)

No-one is safe until everyone is safe – why we need a global response to COVID-19  

Equitable vaccine distribution is a humanitarian imperative 

There is a choice. The world of the next 10 years can be one of greater justice, abundance and dignity. Or it can be one of conflict, insecurity and poverty.  

We are at a turning point. COVID-19 has been a truly global crisis in which we all have shouldered a burden. In many cases this has caused us to reflect on those longer injustices that have perpetuated in parts of the world where the pandemic is yet another layer of misery, instability and unrest. These inequalities have been exposed and exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic, both between and within countries. The effects will be felt on a global scale for years to come.  

The impact of a catastrophe like the COVID-19 pandemic is measured in the tragedy of individual loss and death, as well as the national and global disruption to almost every part of life. No country in the world has been untouched.  

Variants of the virus, potentially more infectious and resistant to vaccines, will continue to threaten us if they are not controlled now.  

Those of us who have signed this declaration represent organizations with roots in communities across the world. We work closely with those affected by conflict, disaster and famine, and know the immense challenges they face – but also of their resilience even in the worst of situations.  

In 2021, the world economy is facing the worst downturn since 1945. For some countries this will sharply increase poverty and suffering. For others it means hunger and death. The fallout from the pandemic will be with us for a long time to come. There will be a continued economic impact, with all the human suffering that brings. A generation of children, especially girls, have left school and will not return. 

The world is facing the challenge of how to reverse these devastating dynamics with health being a key part of such a response.  We advocate here for ‘Health for All’, where each person’s life is valued, and every person’s right to healthcare is upheld. People not only need vaccinations – they need access to healthcare workers who are skilled and equipped to deliver adequate medical support.  

We need to build a world where each community, regardless of where they live, or who they are, has urgent access to vaccinations: not just for COVID-19, but also for the many other diseases that continue to harm and kill. As the pandemic has shown us, in our interdependent world no one is safe until everyone is safe.  

We have a choice: vaccine nationalism or human solidarity.  

Thanks to effective international action, several vaccines have been produced. The World Health Organisation, GAVI and CEPI are leading the COVAX initiative, which is currently the best effort we have to ensure that vaccines reach people around the world. However, COVAX is only intended to cover 20% of the global population– the most vulnerable in lower-income countries – by the end of 2021 and it is not yet clear if it will meet this target. Meanwhile studies show that if we focus only on vaccinating our own populations, the world risks global GDP losses of up to $9.2 trillion (with half of that cost being incurred by high income countries) this year alone.  

But it is not just a matter of money. In order to achieve wider global vaccination, complex logistical, infrastructure and scaling issues must be addressed. The Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator is focused on providing a means to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 diagnostic and treatment products. The ACT recognizes and aims to address the requirement for information sharing – whether about technology, intellectual property or manufacturing.  

However, more needs to be done. The sharing of information, the transfer of technology and the strengthening of manufacturing processes, to name a few, require the active involvement of States and the private sector. 

We therefore call on world leaders to: 

  1. Ensure equitable access to vaccines between countries by providing vaccines, sharing knowledge and expertise, and fully funding the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which is working to provide equitable access to and implementation of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.  
  2. Ensure equitable access to vaccines within countries by ensuring all sectors of the population are included in national distribution and vaccination programs, regardless of who they are or where they live, including stigmatized and marginalized communities for whom access to healthcare might not be straightforward. 
  3. Support countries financially, politically and technically to ensure that curbing COVID-19 is not a standalone goal, and instead is one important element of a broader health strategy, implemented alongside communities to bring longer-term improvements to people’s health and access to healthcare. We are committed, in our different institutions, to offering all the help we can to support actions by communities and authorities. 

It is time for decisive leadership. Countries and organizations across the world have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address global inequality and reverse some of the fallout from the past year. In doing so, they will bring hope not only for the poorest in the world, but for us all.   

Signatories: 

The Most Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury  

Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross  

Bishop Ivan M Abrahams, General Secretary of the World Methodist Council 

HE Elder Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, Ecumenical Patriarchate 

The Reverend Dr Chris Ferguson, General Secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches 

Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General

Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 

The Reverend Dr Martin Junge, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation 

Dr Azza Karam, Secretary-General, Religions for Peace  

Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies 

Rabbi David Rosen, Co-President, Religions for Peace 

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, The Grand Imam of al-Azhar 

HE Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Rome

Methodists join other Christians in appealing for peace and an end to provocative actions in Jerusalem.

Statement from the World Methodist Council, Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church and the Methodist Church in Britain, which are partners in the Jerusalem Methodist Liaison Office.

We stand together to support the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches of Jerusalem who have
expressed their concern about continuing violence in Jerusalem and who have called on those in the international community to put an end to what they describe as ‘provocative actions’.

We have been horrified by the scenes of violence in east Jerusalem which threaten the
fragility of the Holy City, and call on the Israeli Government to permanently halt the threatened evictions of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, where clashes have also taken place.

We urge calm on all sides and ask the politicians to enable an environment where justice
and healing can be experienced by all and we join with the Heads of Churches to continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We continue to stand in solidarity with our Christian sisters and brothers who live and work in the Holy Land.

Photo credits: Photo 93643821 © Ruletkka | Dreamstime.com

WMC STATEMENT ON ETHIOPIAN/TIGRAY REGION HUMANITARIAN CONFLICT

#SilenceTheGuns, African Resolution by African Leaders for African Conflict

The World Methodist Council (WMC), joins the World Council of Churches (WCC) in its
condemnation of violent attacks in the Tigray region of conflict in Ethiopia. In addition,
WMC General Secretary, Bishop Ivan Abrahams, hears with deep distress that UNHCR, the
UN’s refugee agency, reports that women, children and men have crossed the border at a
rate of 4,000 per day in Tigray, adding to more than 100,000 Eritrean refugees in four camps
in Tigray who were displaced in the 1998-2000 Ethiopia-Eritrea border war.
In the light of WMC’s call on the United Nations to adopt UNSCR 2532 and support a global
ceasefire amidst the Coronavirus (2) pandemic, WMC General Secretary appeals to all
African political, civil and faith leaders in the African Union to support #SilenceTheGuns,
an African initiative to address African problems by Africa’s leaders.

The WMC further notes that AU President, HE President Cyril Ramaphosa, emphasised in a
meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister, HE Sahle-Work Zewde that “Ethiopia occupies a
place of pride and honour in the history of Africa, having successfully resisted colonialism,
and played a leading role in the decolonization of Africa. The decision of the Founding
Fathers that Africa’s foremost Continental organisation, the Organisation for African Unity
(OAU), should be established and headquartered in Addis Ababa, was a fitting tribute to
Ethiopia’s role as a symbol of African unity.” Ramaphosa indicated, however, that “the
ongoing conflict … is a matter of great concern not only for countries in the region of the
Horn of Africa, but for the continent as a whole.”

Bishop Ivan Abrahams, in response to #SilenceTheGuns initiative, therefore, “calls on the
‘People called Methodist’ as well as all humans globally to be mindful of and work in every
way possible for an end to this historic, regional conflict and to seek the promotion of a
just, peaceful and sustainable solution to this … fragile conflict in Africa.” “We call on all
people who are committed to global solidarity to mourn the unnecessary loss of life and
look to the legacy of historic peace and co-existence that Ethiopia has been and remains
able to contribute toward the future of African co-existence, humanitarian peace and
solidarity.” To this end, the WMC calls on its membership on the African continent and in
the rest of the world to support the African Union President, HE Cyril Ramaphosa’s deep
desire “that the conflict … be brought to an end through dialogue between the conflict
ridden parties and that such initiative be viewed against the background of the African
Union’s objective of #SilenceTheGuns, intended to achieve a conflict-free Africa, prevent
genocide, make peace a reality for all and rid the continent of wars, violent conflicts,
human rights violations, and humanitarian disasters.”

The WMC calls on all to pray, work and call for a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict
raging in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and the Horn of Africa: “God of healing, light and
compassion; we bring to You all who suffer in body, mind or spirit as a result of war and
conflict in Ethiopia or because of fears, suspicions raised by cultural, religious or human
differences. We pray for all who seek refuge, for those who have been displaced from
family, livelihoods or securities. Show them Your mercy and compassion, O Lord and grant
strength to those who seek victims’ relief in any form of distress; for Your Name’s sake.
God bless Africa. Guide her leaders. Guard her children; And give her peace. Amen”

Statement prepared by Keith Vermeulen, Researcher, WMC

Statement from the Methodist Church in Peru

Please read a statement from Bishop Samuel Aquilar, bishop of the Methodist Church in Peru, regarding the troubles and political unrests in Peru, a country also deeply affected by COVID-19.

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