Document date: 18.05.2006
Letter to the churches in Brazil

Geneva, 18 May 2006 

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, 

We are shocked by the news we have received from your country during the last couple of days. The unprecedented violence unleashed in São Paulo by criminal gangs has resulted in the death of more than a hundred people, including members of law enforcement agencies. Valuable public properties have been wantonly destroyed. As your people face these tragic developments, we wish to assure you of our solidarity and our prayers. 

As sounds of gunshots and violence resound, we hope that the call of the churches and civil society for peace and an end to violence will prevail. It is pertinent that churches are not only shocked by the actions of a criminal organization, but have also taken note of the inadequacy of the legal system and the overcrowding of prisons. Reforms have been difficult because of corruption, impunity and lack of political will. 

We pray that the witness of the churches of Brazil may give hope and meaning to the people in these times of fear and terror. We lift up in our prayers those families who have lost their near and dear ones.  

As we send this letter, the first Executive Committee meeting of the World Council of Churches after the 9th Assembly in Porto Alegre is taking place in Geneva, Switzerland. The members of the Committee join us in offering their heart-felt condolences, through you, to the victims of these ghastly events. 

We in the World Council of Churches are concerned at the increase of incidences of violence in your country and in the region. It is precisely for this reason that the focus of the Decade to Overcome Violence for the year 2006 is Latin America. We hope - together with the churches of the region - we can contribute to overcoming this scourge of violence that is destroying our societies.  

May God give you the strength of the faith and of hope to be witnesses to His Love as you come together to promote a culture of peace and non-violence. 

Your brothers in Christ, 

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary

Rev. Dr Walter Altmann