World Council Sees Common Concerns With Catholic Church

Especially Formation and Ecumenism Among the Young

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 16, 2005 ( Following an audience with Benedict XVI, the secretary-general of the World Council of Churches confirmed his commitment to foster ecumenism with the Catholic Church.

The Reverend Samuel Kobia noted that both the WCC and the Catholic Church in particular are «very concerned about ecumenical formation for young people.»

After meeting with the Pope today, the Methodist pastor met with journalists and said that he and Benedict XVI agreed to stimulate ecumenism, especially in the area of formation of young generations.

Kobia told the Holy Father that the WCC prays for his ministry. «I would like to reiterate the assurance that our prayers accompany you in the exercise of your ministry, which you have inaugurated with clear signals of hope,» he said.

Invitation to Geneva

The meeting between the Bishop of Rome and the secretary-general ended with an invitation to Geneva, where the WCC is headquartered.

«We would be particularly honored to receive Your Holiness at the World Council of Churches as yet one more concrete step in our long journey towards visible unity,» Kobia told the Pontiff.

Regarding the invitation, Kobia told journalists that the Vatican responded by saying «that this matter will be considered.» Popes Paul VI and John Paul II both visited the WCC headquarters.

Kobia mentioned three areas of collaboration with the Catholic Church: spirituality and ecumenical and ecclesiological formation. On this last point, he pointed out that the topic of the churches’ mutual recognition, as such, is on the table.

He clarified that talks on this topic are based on what Benedict XVI has said since he became Pope, and do not address past discussions, in particular those that arose over the 2000 declaration «Dominus Iesus.» The document was published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope, was its prefect.

Working together

«Important steps towards visible unity are not being sufficiently communicated, fully received and put into practice in the lives of the Churches,» Kobia said.

The secretary-general clarified that there have been no discussions about the Catholic Church’s eventual full participation in the WCC.

Rather, talks have focused on «ways of working together,» he said. He mentioned areas in which there can be collaboration, such as formation in faith and the struggle against AIDS.

«We recognize that our faith is more effective and vibrant when it is lived out together with our brothers and sisters in Christ,» the secretary-general said.

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