Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the tenth Assembly of the World Council of Churches, held in Busan, Republic of Korea, from 30 October to 8 November:
I am pleased to send greetings to all participants at the tenth Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC). I applaud the WCC for its work with the United Nations to advance our common goals.
Our world today is beset by challenges that cross geographical, cultural and religious lines. Climate change, poverty, environmental degradation, conflict and other threats demand a global response by Governments along with other partners, including non-governmental organizations and religious groups.
As we focus on broad global challenges, we must pay close attention to people as key agents of change. Religious leaders can have an enormous influence on their followers, and are well placed to help bring about a change in mindsets that can lead to progress in society. By spreading messages of respect, compassion and love, WCC members can combat bigotry and hatred, and foster greater tolerance and trust.
Twenty-first century realities, such as economic integration, migration flows and environmental concerns underscore how we must work across identity lines to reach our shared goals, from resolving conflicts to empowering young people to bringing the poor and vulnerable in from the margins.
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations provides a platform where Governments, religious leaders, businesses and civil society groups, especially those representing young people, can stand up for inclusivity and against extremism.
I count on all of you to contribute to this effort by helping to lay the foundations of trust and friendship on which we can build lasting peace and prosperity in our world.