WCC – The Dream of the New General Secretary
The first Meeting of the WCC Central Committee with the new General secretary Dr. Emilio Castro has been held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this July-August. The new general secretary has many ambitions plans, though not all of them are equally practical. He wants to restore some balance into the staff of the WCC — more women in prominent positions, and more fondly, more Orthodox in staff leadership.
The first part of the dream is easier to fulfill, but the difficulties are not to be overlooked. In the first place, to get women with some experience in Church leadership on the local or national plane is no easy matter. It is not possible to have proportionate representation for women at the Geneva level of leadership when such leadership does not exist at the local or national Church level. It is not enough for the women staff to have just Geneva experience. And unless the churches become more committed to the task of restoring to women their leading role in the teaching, administrative and service ministry of the Church, we are not going to be able to solve the problem at the Geneva level. The only hope is that what is done at the Geneva headquarters will provide some kind of incentive to the churches.
The situation is much more complex in relation to the Orthodox churches. There is first the problem that staff members from the Eastern churches have to work in Geneva with western languages, and western styles of work, and also serve a largely western or two-third world protestant constituency. There are very few Orthodox who have the compliance, the training and even the inclination to work under these conditions. Dr. Castro thinks that he can appoint young Orthodox to some sort of apprentice positions and train them on the job. This perhaps is the only way open. But getting good candidates, and getting them accepted fully by the Geneva staff and by the constituency are both going to be difficult. At the moment there is a lack of competent senior Orthodox on the staff who can train or at least guide the youngsters properly. It will not be enough to get a few Orthodox young people and train them to be Protestant workers. The recruitment and training of these young Orthodox staff will call for more wisdom than is now available in the Orthodox staff Task Force in Geneva.
Wi1l Emilio Castro be able to recover the intellectual respectability that the WCC once had? Judging from the documents made available at the Central committee, one has reason to be pessimistic.
Neither the theological document on International Finance produced by CCPD had sufficient depth to satisfy those who want to get to the root causes of injustice, war and the environmental crisis. Dr. Castro has now asked his friend and former President of WCC Miguez Bonino to come and spend some time in Geneva to stimulate the staff. If this stimulation is not to be one-sidedly Latin American, we will need light from some other source as well.
Dr Castro is determined to do some things in the short time he has before retirement. Let us wish him well!
(Editorial in The Star of the East, 1996)