Religious Bodies and Ecumenical Process

Workshop 7

Participants: Fabrizio Bovard, Anna Grassis, Giorgina Momigliano (Aosta, Italy), Beppe Marasso (Torino, Italy), Prof. J. Carlos Dalmau (Valencia, Spain), Cesar Flores (Honduras), Gianni Maccione (Germany), Martin Arnold (Essen, Germany), Gerald Drewett (Quakers, UK), Jan Maartens (Nederland), Gottfried Thieme (Singen, Germany), Klaus Waiditschka (Koblenz, Germany), Kary Smith (UK) as observer,

Chairperson: Martin Arnold.

Giorgina Momigliano reports different peace tax campaigns in Italy, e.g.. letters to the Pope, to Cardinal Ratzinger (Congragation De Propaganda Fide), to the Italian bishops. Until now they got no answer. She pointed out that, according to her personal conviction and that of the group of Aosta and Torino, war tax resistance is an eminent problem of conscience and belief for Christians and should therefore interest the churches very much indeed

Beppe Marasso gives a brief report of the activities of the Italian group of war tax resisters from Aosta and Torino. They developed a program of 9 points to encourage citizens to WTR. They got much support, frequently from catholic priests, monasteries (e.g.. the Franciscans), monks and nuns. 

Gerald Drewett reports his experiences as an insider of a Peace Church in Great Britain with WTR. They try to do little steps but well-considered ones. E.g. they developed a leaflet about WTR and built up a Telephone Advice Line.

G. Thieme remembers the European Ecumenical Convocation of Basle 1989: Through active participation in the corresponding working group WTR got been mentioned in the final document as an acceptable attitude of believing Christians and conscientious objectors to be encouraged by churches.

K. Waiditschka reports development of WTR-PTCs of the last ten years in Western Germany: many people who participate in WTR or sympathize with it suffer from conflict between personal conscientious objection and political and ‘legal’ control and ‘ruling’ of this problem in Germany: It's the Parliament which decides about taxes, not you!

J.C. Dalmau Lliso reports the difficult situation of WTR in Spain. In spite of all, single war tax resisters and groups of them do exist. 

G. Momigliano asks if there is any support to war tax resisters in Spain and for which purpose they do WTR.

B. Marasso: In Italy, we do not contest the right of the State to defend our country, but to do it with arms (In Italia non contestiamo il diritto di difesa del paese, ma di farlo con le arme!)

C. Flores Ventura gives a brief summary of his personal situation and work in his country, mostly as a peace worker among refugees from San Salvador in the region near the frontier. From this experience he is very much interested in WTR.

J. Maartens: (Ecumenical World Assembly) Seoul 1990, after Basle 1989, has given us much more with regard to non-violence and to peaceful solution of conflicts.

G. Thieme: I feel myself uneasy with this kind of discussion Basle-Seoul: did we go ahead or backwards? It is a real conflict of conscience, the huge expenditure for the military in front of a world full of starvation, and we are watching it by TV all the time.

M. Arnold reads a quotation of the expert opinion of the Research Institute of Evangelic Churches of Germany (FEST) on WTR: Churches should support actively war tax resisters.

G. Drewett: Our church pleads for something what other Christians have to struggle for inside their own church first. We have got the gospel, that conscience must be hearth So we are in a strong position: we can -as a church- invite other churches, leaders of churches and continue that for a long time.

B. Marasso describes the situation between the different churches in Italy. Mostly much reserve, only in one region, Pinerolo, near the French border, where equal distribution, members of different churches invite each other. Beppe shows a list of nearly 200 catholic priests and sisters who all in public have supported WTR. Proposal: a list for Europe 7

M. Arnold: What can we really do now? He reads the 10 proposals for the possible next steps from the paper of the Italian group.

K. Waiditschka: Make use of the ecumenical contacts of churches, because they have the possibilities.

G. Drewett: Certainly it has to be done within one's own denomination. It will be hard work again and again.

B. Marasso reports practical use of refused war tax. Total amount of 1991:, - Lit. 75% for study of non-violence and development aid; 25% for WTR organisations.

G. Thieme

January 28, 1993