The admission of its first indigenous African church, lively skirmishes over the Middle East and Nigeria, some significant words on racism, and significant silences on other issues—these were features of the World Council of Churches’ Central Committee meeting last month in Canterbury, England. The twelve-day sessions began with a service in England’s oldest cathedral and continued in one of England’s newest universities.
Some Eastern European churches criticized the WCC’s 1968 statement on Czechoslovakia, but General Secretary Eugene Carson Blake in his report defended that statement, not only because of the principles involved, but because “it had been widely said that the World Council was unable or unwilling to be publicly critical of the U. S. S. R.” as it had been of others. Asked later if, since the present meetings coincided with the first anniversary of the Russian invasion, the WCC proposed to make a further statement, Blake said this was the task of the Churches Commission in International Affairs (CCIA), whose report had not yet been given (and which was in fact making no statement).
One Central Committee member had more to say. United States Congressman John Brademas (D.-Ind.) told journalists the invasion was “so obviously an outrage against human rights that the CCIA’s omission is a rather obvious and glaring one.” On a Russian committeeman’s statement to a previous session that there was no racism in their socialist regime, Brademas commented: “Nobody takes that kind of rhetoric seriously.”
The CCIA report’s reference to Greece was comparatively strong: “In the field of human rights,” it said, “CCIA felt a particular ...1
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