VATICAN CITY, AUG. 20, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The preparation of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has led to a new stage in collaboration between the Holy See and the World Council of Churches.
For the first time, the text that will inspire the Week of Prayer has been published jointly by that council’s Faith and Constitution Commission and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
The decision was announced by Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the pontifical council, and by Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches.
The theme proposed for the Week in 2005 is “Christ, the One Foundation of the Church,” a reference to 1 Corinthians 3:1-23.
On this occasion, the texts were prepared by members of the Theological Committee of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in Slovakia and pose three questions: “1. What is the foundation on which the new ‘existence’ of their churches is being built? 2. Is there a space to grow in unity as the respective confessional communities grow? 3. What are the means for strengthening the service of the church?”
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is usually held Jan. 18-25. In the Southern Hemisphere, other dates are usually chosen, for example, around Pentecost.
The full text of the materials for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and for the rest of the year may be read on the Web page of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
The Faith and Constitution Plenary Commission, the only entity of the World Council of Churches that has a Catholic representation, met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from July 28 to Aug. 6. Since 1968, a dozen Catholic theologians have been full members of the commission’s Theological Department.
“There are still many questions we need to explore together, but we became aware of reaching a moment of hope, having identified a framework which might enable churches to move forward in terms of mutual recognition,” stated the meeting’s final message.
The commission has carried out a study on ecclesiology entitled “The Nature and Mission of the Church.”
“The divisions within and among our churches reflect not only theological and ecclesiological differences, but also strife within the human community,” the final message continues.
The meeting was opened by Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, who said: “We cannot stand before a compassionate God while there is so much we have left undone because we are disunited.”
The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of ecclesial communities, now 342, in more than 120 countries. The Catholic Church is not a member Church but works cooperatively with the WCC.