Christians everywhere are called to be agents of reconciliation and to transcend temporal differences that separate them, a group of Soviet and American churchmen said after five days of disarmament discussions this month in St. Louis.

“The Christian faith has direct and profound implications for world problems such as arms limitations and disarmament, because such problems are at root human problems, the resolution of which can predetermine the quality of human community itself,” a statement issued by the consultation said.

Nine Russian churchmen, headed by Bishop Juvenaly, vice-chairman of external church affairs for the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, and sixteen representatives of U. S. church bodies attended.

The first thing Juvenaly said to newsmen as the conference opened was: “We are not agents of the Russian government. We are here because we welcome this opportunity to discuss this issue with Catholics and Protestants in the United States.”

But Lutheran pastor Lawrence Lilligard of Ballwin, Missouri, denounced the presence of the Soviet churchmen as a Communist conspiracy. “These men are agents of their government,” he said. “It is ridiculous to talk about Christianity in the Soviet Union while Christians are being systematically imprisoned and tortured in that country.”

The consultation was sponsored by the National Council of Churches and the United States Catholic Conference, with St. Louis University Divinity School as host. All sessions were closed, and only one brief statement was issued.

Dr. Robert S. Bilheimer, executive director of the NCC Department of International Affairs, and Monsignor Marvin Bordelon, of the USCC Division of World Justice and Peace, headed the American delegation.

The predominant theme was concern for international peace and an acknowledgment of the perils to mankind from nuclear annihilation. The statement said: “The common conviction among the group was the absolute folly of thinking that continuing the spiraling arms race is a means of achieving world peace or national security. Also evident was the unanimous agreement that arms limitation is essential as a step toward the ultimate goal of general and complete disarmament.”

Participants were most concerned about limitation of strategic weapons, a ban on underground and underwater nuclear tests and weapons, and a ban on chemical and biological weapons.


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