LWF President Endorses Faith Leaders’ Historic Affirmations to “Welcome the Stranger”

LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan
(middle) LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan at the launch of “Welcoming the Stranger” © UNHCR

UNHCR Initiative Supports Refugees’ Protection and Promotes Interreligious Cooperation

(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan has endorsed a historic code of conduct declaration that calls for faith leaders, faith-based organizations and communities to enhance efforts to embrace and support millions of refugees, internally displaced and stateless people, and to stand united against xenophobia.

“I fully endorse the ‘Welcoming the Stranger: Affirmations for Faith Leaders’” Younan told over 150 participants including religious leaders, diplomats and representatives from 25 faith based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the 12 June “Affirmations” document launch, hosted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland.

The declaration is the culmination of a High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Faith and Protection convened last December by UNHCR chief, Mr António Guterres, and attended by representatives of major faith groups and academics. It concluded with a recommendation for the development of a code of conduct for faith leaders, initially suggested by the LWF president and subsequently backed by all participants,

This was followed up with the drafting of the “Affirmations” between February and April by a coalition of faith-based organizations and academic institutions which included, among others, the LWF, Jesuit Refugee Service, Islamic Relief Worldwide, the World Council of Churches, and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

The text of the declaration draws upon principles and values of welcome that are deeply rooted in all major religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. It is expected to be used worldwide to foster support for refugees and other people displaced in their communities.

Common Values for Co-existence and Protection

Commenting on the declaration, Younan, who is bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), said the fundamental principles refer to many religious traditions. “I believe this is significant, in our quest to find common values of co-existence and protection. Religion should be part of the solution,” he added.

The ELCJHL bishop emphasized that the religious reasons for welcoming and helping strangers in need “are not at their core about charity or alms giving. They are about respect for human dignity. We are called upon to help out of compassion because we share the same humanity. Our welcome and our compassion should have no ulterior motive.”

To read more, click on the LWF article.

To learn more about the Lutheran World Federation, you can visit their website: lutheranworld.org.