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Church council warns: 'wealth should not confer power'

''The sharing of material resources must be seen in the proper context of Christian stewardship. . . . Material wealth should not confer power on those who have, while confining others to dependence.'' This was a conclusion of a World Council of Churches report on community life.

It offered a broad definition of ''health'' that includes ''harmony in the community.'' Harmonious relations between men and women promote health, the WCC study holds. Churches were encouraged to examine questions involving human values and ethics - including those related to biomedical technology, abortion, euthanasia, and genetic engineering.

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They were also urged to guide young people in a ''Christian life style'' in order to counter the appeal of alcohol, tobacco, and addictive drugs, which undermine the ''physical, mental, and spiritual competence of individuals.''

The church has the responsibility to face these problems that face people around the globe, the paper said. The root cause, it explained, may be found in ''social and economic conditions which lead to stress, fear, unemployment, isolation, loneliness, dissatisfaction and the need to be socially accepted.

''A congregation can only become a healing community when it provides an opportunity to its members to participate fully in every aspect of its life and healing mission,'' the WCC position paper concludes.

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