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Resolution 1 - Today's World

Resolution 1

Today's World

The Conference approves the following statement as expressing some of the concerns of the bishops about today's world in which today's Church must proclaim a total Gospel. It is printed here for study, and action wherever possible, by the member Churches.

We, the bishops of the Anglican Communion gathered from many parts of the world, having experienced a deep unity in the conviction of our faith and in our calling as bishops, wish to share with all people some matters of universal concern.

On earlier occasions we have appealed not only to Anglicans but to all Christian people. Today because we have discovered a new dimension of unity in our intense concern for the future wellbeing of all mankind in the new era of history which we are now entering we dare to appeal also to governments, world leaders, and people, without distinction, because all countries, however nationalistic in sentiment, are now interdependent. No nation is an island unto itself.

The choices before us are real, and so are the consequences of them. On the one hand there are great potentialities for advance in human wellbeing but there are also real possibilities of catastrophic disaster if present attitudes and the expectations of individuals do not swiftly change and if vital problems of society are not confronted and resolved by governments and through international co-operation.

We draw attention to the following areas where there is need for a change in attitude and practice:

1. We need to see the necessary exchange of commodities in the market place as an area where human values can be affirmed and not ignored; to seek to ensure that those involved are not treated merely as functional units but as being worthy of and able to enter into relations of friendship.

2. We need to challenge the assumptions that "more is better" and "having is being" which add fuel to the fire of human greed.

3. We need to stress that the wellbeing of the whole human family is more important that egoistic self-interest.

4. We need to change the focus on technology and see it not as the master with an insidious fascination of its own but as the servant of the world and its people, beginning with those in need. We must face the threat of science and technology as well as their promise.

5. We need to be diverting our planning and action to the development of a new kind of society. Much time is still spent in overtaking problems. We must direct our efforts to the achievement of a kind of society where the economy is not based on waste, but on stewardship, not on consumerism but on conservation, one concerned not only with work but with the right use of leisure. We may need to contemplate a paradox: an increasing use of appropriate technology, while returning, where possible, to many of the values of pre-industrial society. In some places this can include home industries, the local market, the fishing village, and the small farm.

6. We need to recognise that at present all over the world there tends to be a growing urbanisation. Many cities are in crisis due to the growing number of people with little hope of freedom of choice. The gap between the rich and the poor, between the powerful and the powerless, continues to grow.

7. We need to recognise that some earlier evaluations of the place of work in human life are becoming dangerously obselete. In many societies more goods are produced, but there is less employment. We need to orientate education so as to help people develop new attitudes both to work and leisure.

8. We need to help people in the parts of the world classed as economically underdeveloped not to mirror industrialised societies, but to retain or shape a style of life which affirms both the dignity of the person and the value of close human community.

9. We need to help the developed industrial nations and the people who live in them to face the necessity of a redistribution of wealth and trading opportunities. Such a redistribution could place the major burden on those groups within such societies which are already most vulnerable. We need, therefore, to urge such nations to face the challenge to work for much greater internal justice.

10. We need to recognise that expenditure on armaments is disproportionate to sums spent on such essentials as health and education and constitutes a vast misdirection of limited resources that are badly needed for human welfare, especially for the eradication of poverty. The escalation of weapons systems with their ever-increasingly technological complexity diverts attention from the real needs of mankind. We call all people to protest, in whatever ways possible, at the escalation of the commerce in armaments of war and to support with every effort all international proposals and conferences designed to achieve progressive world disarmament is a way that recognises the need for power balances. New initiatives are urgently required for mutual co-existence and toleration which are essential if real justice and peace are to be established.

11. The resources of our planet are limited; delicate ecological balances can be disturbed by modern technology, or threatened by the toxic effects of human ingenuity. Ways must be found to stop waste, to recycle resources and to monitor and control the manufacture of substances dangerous to life and health. The use of nuclear fuel must be subject to the safe and permanent disposal of its toxic by-products. Alternative sources of energy must be harnessed for use.

Such changes will not be easy to make and will require wise leadership from both secular and religious sources. Creative solutions will require both technical knowledge and moral insights. Decisions will be not only difficult but unpopular.

We recognise and acknowledge with gratitude the many people and agencies who have pioneered in thinking and acting towards the future wellbeing of the human family. We confess that the Churches to which we belong have shared in attitudes and acquiesced in structures which have been hurtful to the true welfare of the peoples of the world.

We do not pretend to a knowledge of the practical solutions for these problems. But we do affirm that God intends all of us to enjoy this planet and not to ruin it; he intends all of us, as his children, to live together peaceably and creatively; to use our skills and knowledge not to destroy but to fulfil human potentialities.

We believe that time is running out. Beneath all the choices lies the ultimate choice of life or death. We join with all men of goodwill in appealing that we shall choose life. We know that tasks and situations which to human view seem hopeless can, with the boundless resources of God's grace, be transfered.

See also "Resolution 2 : A response" [and clarification] of this resolution.

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