WELCOME TO THE KAIROS EUROPA WEBSITE IN ENGLISH
Kairos Europa is a decentralised network of justice, peace and creation initiatives working in collaboration with ecumenical networks, churches, social movements, trade unions and non-governmental organisations both in and outside Europe, for a more just and tolerant society.
It is the European manifestation of the Kairos process, which started within the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa in 1985.
It is a process that provides a platform on the European level for a more holistic approach at addressing the injustice, the violence, the destruction of creation and the general decay of society adopting a non-single issue perception and favouring a dual strategy of local and global action, with a decentralised and bottom-up methodology.
KAIROS is a word from Greek mythology and means: “Moment of truth, decisive time to take action”.
WHO WE ARE …
KAIROS EUROPA is a European ecumenical grassroots network committed to justice, peace and the integrity of creation (JPIC). Members are individuals, grassroots groups and non-governmental organisations. Kairos Europa was founded in May 1990 in Monteforte Irpino, Italy. Since that time we have been working – primarily in Germany, but also Europe-wide – on structural economic violence and are struggling for (more) economic justice.
KAIROS EUROPA is a registered non-profit association whose activities are recognised as charitable. Membership subscriptions, donations, collections and the co-financing of specific projects by churches, church-related services, foundations and public institutions provide the financial resources for our work. Our activities, mainly building on the voluntary commitment of individual persons and groups, are coordinated by the executive committee and an advisory board.
Our activities focus on sharing development-related information and analysis, and on educational and advocacy work. We cooperate with the World Council of Churches (WCC), the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), churches as well as ecumenical partner organisations of countries both from the South and Europe. In addition, we build alliances with other actors in civil society, especially social movements and trade unions.
… AND WHAT WE STAND UP FOR
Our vision is expressed by our name: the Greek term KAIROS means a decisive moment for conversion and a new beginning in the face of severe crisis. Human history has seen many of these decisive moments – the ending of apartheid, for instance, is one of the most recent – where people’s persistent protest against suppression and injustice brought about fundamental transformation.
Today, more than ever before, the whole world is being confronted with such a KAIROS – a life-threatening crisis offering opportunities for liberation from the yoke of an ever more unregulated capitalism. The present world economic order is directing the signs of our time towards the simultaneous impoverishment of the many and enrichment of the few, towards more violence and war and towards the destruction of our environment. We want to counter these devastating developments by promoting alternatives and struggling for their implementation. We will not give up our aim of a life in fulness for all. In other words: we believe that “Another world is possible”.
Our current activities focus on the world-wide ecumenical process “Economy in the Service of Life / AGAPE” which coordinates the churches’ approach of “recognising, educating and confessing” in relation to neo-liberal globalisation from the perspective of faith. This process was initiated by churches from countries in the South. Their fundamental criticism of the unjust global economic structures has not been taken up with the necessary attention by European churches. For this reason KAIROS Europa is committed to making the voice of the South heard and to countering the ambivalence of our churches by mobilising from below for a clear stance on economic globalisation.
The 9th General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Porto Alegre recommended that the ecumenical process on globalisation and the “Decade to Overcome Violence” become two of four foci of the ecumenical follow-up activities for the coming years. This is in line with the recommendations of the consultation of the German Council of Christian Churches (ACK). At its “Mid-term review consultation on the Decade to Overcome Violence” from April 2005 in Freising it voted for an integrated approach to these two ecumenical programmes.
KAIROS EUROPA has taken up this proposal – hoping that the merger of the two processes will contribute to a broad revival and a creative adaptation of the conciliar process for justice, peace and the integrity of creation.
KAIROS EUROPA AND THE ECUMENICAL PROCESS
Together with other ecumenical groups and organisations in Germany, Europe and the South, our aim is to mobilize as many people as possible from a broad range of backgrounds. With this in mind, we consider ourselves a point of contact and provider of services for all those who, within the context of globalisation, would like to become actively involved in the attainment of a fair, peaceful and ecologically sustainable world (economic) order.
For all those interested in the ecumenical processes “Economy in the Service of Life” and “Decade to Overcome Violence”, we can offer the following:
● Answers to questions and queries
● The preparation of the latest and background information in the form of circular letters, information materials, etc.
● Organizing and holding lectures, seminars, workshops, etc.
● Passing on useful contacts, speakers, etc.
● Ideas and support for activities relevant to your particular circumstances
● The realization of campaigns or other activities likely to achieve a high degree of publicity
Give us a call or send us an e-mail!
RELATED KAIROS EUROPA PUBLICATIONS:
in the Ecumenical Process for Globalizing Justice
Information material for congregations and grassroots groups, 24 pages, Heidelberg 2002
Economy and Finances as a Question of Faith
Information material for congregations and grassroots groups, 22 pages, Heidelberg 2001
DOCUMENTS RELATED TO THE ECUMENICAL PROCESS:
● World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Debrecen/Hungary 1997: The Call for a "processus confessionis"
● Letters and Messages from Churches in the South and the East to the Churches in the North and the West:
- Bangkok/Thailand 1999: Message to the Churches in the North
- Budapest/Hungary 2001: Serve God, not Mammon
Buenos Aires/Argentina 2001:
To our Sister Churches, Agencies and Church Institutions in the Northern Hemisphere
Alliance of Reformed Churches, Cape Town/South Africa 2001:
A Continuing Journey towards Confessing Movement for Economic Justice and Life on Earth
● Letters from the Western European Consultation “Economy in the Service of Life” in Soesterberg/The Netherlands 2002:
- Accompanying letter from the General Secretaries of WCC, WARC, LWF and CEC
- Letter to the Churches in Western Europe
- Letter to the Churches in the South
- Letter to the Churches in Central and Eastern Europe
● Speeches given at the Western European Consultation “Economy in the Service of Life” in Soesterberg/The Netherlands 2002:
Anna Karin Hammar, Church of Sweden:
Three Theological Paradigms in the Context of Neo-liberal Economic Globalisation
- Susan George, attac France: Society Facing Crucial Decisions - A Challenge for Churches
- Ulrich Duchrow, Kairos Europa: Signs of hope
World Federation, Winnipeg/Canada 2003:
Message from the 10th Assembly - Transforming Economic Globalization
Alliance of Reformed Churches, Accra/Ghana 2004:
Covenanting for Justice in the Economy and the Earth
Council of Churches, World Alliance of Reformed Churches, Lutheran
World Federation, Wonju/Korea 2005:
Life-Giving Agriculture is possible!
Alliance of Reformed Churches, St. Mary/Jamaica 2005:
Women and the Accra Confession
Council of Churches, Leilem/Indonesia 2005:
Message from Asia Pre-Assembly Meeting
Council of Churches, Justice, Peace and Creation Team, Geneva
Alternative Globalization Addressing People and Earth (AGAPE) - A Background Document
Council of Churches, Porto Alegre/Brazil 2006:
Alternative Globalization Addressing People and Earth - AGAPE: A Call to Love and Action
Alliance of Reformed Churches, Council for World Mission, Kuala
Living out the Accra Confession
World Federation, St. Paul/USA 2007:
Confessing and Living out Faith in the Triune God: Being the Church in the Midst of Empire
Council of Churches, Dar es Salaam/Tanzania 2007:
The Dar es Salaam Statement on Linking Poverty, Wealth and Ecology in Africa
Alliance of Reformed Churches & Alliance of Reformed Churches in
Africa, Johannesburg/South Africa 2008:
Africa Consultation on the Accra Confession calls for Stand against World Disorder
Council of Churches, Central Committee, Geneva 2008:
Proposed Statement on Eco-Justice and Ecological Debt
Council of Churches & Latin American Council of Churches,
Guatemala City 2008:
Links between Poverty, Wealth and Ecology: Ecumenical Perspectives in Latin America and the Caribbean
Council of Churches, Christian Conference of Asia & Pacific
Conference of Churches, Chiang Mai 2009:
Poverty, Wealth and Ecology in Asia and the Pacific
Network in Germany (ÖNiD), Germete 2009:
Proposed Declaration for the second version of the Ecumenical Declaration on Just Peace
Council of Churches & Conference of European Churches, Budapest
Budapest Call for Climate Justice - Addressing Poverty, Wealth and Ecology
Council of Churches, Kingston/Jamaica, May 2011:
International Ecumenical Peace Convocation Message - Glory to God and Peace on Earth
Council of Churches, Calgary/Canada, November 2011:
There's a New World in the Making
Council of Churches, Bogor/Indonesia, June 2012:
Economy of Life, Justice and Peace for All: A Call to Action
Council of Churches, World Communion of Reformed Churches &
Council for World Mission, Guarulhos/Brazil, October 2012:
Statement of the Global Ecumenical Conference on a New International Financial and Economic Architecture
History of Kairos Europa
Kairos as a process began in South Africa during the apartheid years. In 1985, a ground-breaking Kairos document entitled “A challenge to the Churches” was published. Written by grassroots Christians and intellectuals, it denounced apartheid. It proclaimed that this was a critical time for the poor and the oppressed, a Kairos moment. The document challenged the leaders of the Christian churches in South Africa to become prophetic and to side with the poor.
After the success of the Kairos process in South Africa, similar Kairos processes began in other countries of the South – notably in Brazil, Central America and the Philippines. Their work was brought together in a document called “The Road to Damascus – Conversion and Confession” (1989). The common thread was the rallying of grassroots Christians to oppose the evils within their own countries and to challenge their Christian churches, particularly also in the North, to become prophetic and side with the poor.
At the first Ecumenical Assembly of European Christian Churches held in Basle, Switzerland in 1989, the idea of a European Kairos process was born. It led to a meeting with representatives of 80 European grassroots organisations held in Monteforte, Italy in May 1990. From that meeting, “Kairos Europa – Towards a Europe for Justice” was launched. A first office was opened in Heidelberg, Germany.
1991 – 1993: Mechanisms of Indebtedness and Impoverishment
The first phase of the Kairos Europa process was from 1991 to 1993. It focussed on building Kairos Europa as a network of grassroots groups and movements. This process culminated in a “People’s Parliament”, held in Strasbourg, France in 1992. It was a week long gathering in which 800 people participated from 52 different countries. Most of the participants were European, but there were also delegations from Latin America, Africa and Asia.
The assembled delegates represented those living on the margins within Europe and included the unemployed, people with handicaps, migrants, travellers, homeless and low paid workers. They spent three days in commissions which dealt with issues of basic need: Food, Shelter, Move and Stay, Work, and Story. Hearings were held with European parliamentarians and officials on specific topics.
There were three plenary sessions of the People’s Parliament, with all 800 delegates, from which an agreed statement was released. On the final day, the participants took to the streets to march and demonstrate, calling for action for a more just, tolerant and open Europa.
Other campaigns during this period included a counter-celebration of the 500 years since Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas, and opposition to the development of the forthcoming European Union’s common market. Linking the struggles against injustices between North and South on the one hand and within Europe on the other is the key to the approach of Kairos Europa – thus anticipating what later developed as a common struggle against neo-liberal globalisation with its similar effects in all continents. At the end of this period, the Kairos Central Coordination moved from Heidelberg to Brussels.
Related Kairos Europa publications:
● Strasbourg Declaration
1994 – 1996: Alternatives to the Dominant Financial System
In 1994, the European Union (EU) was moving towards monetary union. With its convergency criteria, it was applying the same pressures on national economies within the EU as the World Bank and IMF were applying to countries of the South through Structural Adjustment Programmes. The results were more or less the same – increased unemployment and a reduction in social services, especially health and education.
Kairos Europa campaigned against these financial mechanisms during this time, a process which culminated in a number of Action Days in Brussels in June 1994. These Action Days included a formal Hearing in the European Parliament on the subject of European Monetary Union, and a street protest which formed a human chain around Brussels’ stock market building “La Bourse”.
Kairos Europa activity also included a campaign entitled “50 Years is Enough” against the policies of the Bretton Woods organisations – the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund – and calling for reform. In addition, Kairos organised four “Mobile Seminars” educating travelling delegations comprising people from 15 countries to the negative results on their lives of the dominant financial systems. These mobile seminars operated in Brazil, the Caribbean, in Italy/Switzerland and Germany/Poland.
Related Kairos Europa publications:
Alternatives - Responding to the Fifty Years of the Dominant
37 pages, Heidelberg 1994
Political Responsibility of the EU for the International Financial
Order in View of Sustainable Development and Social
Documentation of a Kairos Europa hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels, June 27, 1994, 68 pages, Heidelberg 1994
a Rational European Tax Policy: For More Jobs and a Better
Open Letter to the EU Governments, Heidelberg/Strasbourg/Brussels 1996
1997 – 1999: People’s Alternatives to Neo-Liberal Globalisation
The 2nd Ecumenical Assembly of the European Christian Churches took place in Graz, Austria in October 1997. As the idea for Kairos was born at the first assembly, Kairos Europa initiated a coalition of more than 100 ecumenical groups, organisations and networks which eventually organised an “Ecumenical Village” at the assembly. Among other activities, Kairos hosted a Spirituality Workshop where individuals told their stories of solidarity and resistance. Some of these stories have since been documented and published. Also a discussion of the first draft of a “European Kairos Document” took place leading to the final version published in 1998. More than 200 groups had contributed to the text which eventually was published in 12 languages.
Working alongside the World Council of Churches (WCC), Kairos actively campaigned for a new development model, under the leadership of representatives from social movements and churches in Africa. A West European consultation was held in Frankfurt in October 1998 on alternative development models. Also in 1998, a Kairos Europa delegation attended a gathering of African NGOs in Accra, Ghana and proved useful in assisting the establishment of an African Jubilee 2000 campaign. Later, in December, Kairos had a strong presence at the WCC General Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe. During this time, Kairos was invited to participate with the WCC on the UN Financing for Development process.
In October 1999, the three year programme culminated in a week long event in Brussels. The event included a three day international consultation, a European Parliament hearing, a conference of Kairos delegates and a “Festival of Alternatives” hosted by Kairos Wallonie-Bruxelles.
Related Kairos Europa publications:
49 pages, Heidelberg 1998
2000 – 2002: Development Needs a New International Financial Order
At the beginning of the new millennium, Kairos turned its attention to the need to get rid of tax havens and to regulate the financial markets. A German branch of attac was founded by Kairos, in cooperation with WEED and Pax Christi, and Kairos worked closely with attac in proposing a Tobin Tax on all international currency transactions. This campaign was a partial success in that it put the Tobin Tax on the agenda of the G8 and the EU. Our objectives were in direct conflict with the interests of the rich. This was evident in the compromises reached in the conclusions of the UN Conference in Monterrey in 2002.
During this time, Kairos intensified its cooperation with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) who had invited their member churches to engage in a “committed process of recognition, education and confession regarding economic injustice and ecological destruction” (processus confessionis). Workshops, seminars and meetings were organised, leaders from within these churches were trained, and awareness raising handbooks were published and distributed.
In October 2002, this work culminated in a week of activities in Brussels. The week included a three day international consultation, two hearings in the European Parliament, and a two day conference.
Related Kairos Europa publications:
Steps towards a
Comprehensive Jubilee -
Invitation to Churches and Ecumenical Groups in Western
Edited in cooperation with the World Council of Churches and the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, 17 pages, Heidelberg 2000
Currency Transaction Tax ("Tobin Tax")
Information material for congregations and grassroots groups, 7 pages, Heidelberg 2001
International Financial System - Functional Failures and the Need for
Information material for congregations and grassroots groups, 15 pages, Heidelberg 2002
Political Co-Responsibility of the European Union for a Sustainable
Global Financial Architecture
Documentation of a Kairos Europa hearing at the European Parliament in Brussels, October 14, 2002, 33 pages, Heidelberg 2002
KAIROS Europa / Heidelberg Office ● Willy-Brandt-Platz 5● D-69115 Heidelberg ● Germany
Phone: +49 6221 4333622 ● Fax: +49 6221 4333629 ● E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
KAIROS Europe / Brussels Office ● Avenue du Parc Royal, 3 ● B-1020 Brussels ● Belgium
Phone: +32 2 7623920 ● E-mail: email@example.com ● www.kairoswb.com